Rain Garden Maintenance for Everyone

To function well, water needs to flow into the rain garden easily and soak into the ground quickly. While it's good to keep your rain garden beautiful, maintaining its functionality is crucial. Even an ugly rain garden can treat stormwater! Here are some helpful tips for maintaining your rain garden:

  • Get your neighborhood involved! If your neighborhood has several rain gardens, try to schedule a periodic neighborhood cleanup day.
  • Mulch will break down and should be refreshed every couple years.
  • Stay on top of weeding. Err on the side of pulling too much.
  • Homeowners should not be afraid to experiment with the plants in their rain garden. Try using native plants to encourage pollinator presence!
  • Pretreatment chambers should be cleaned out after each rain event. This should take no more than a few minutes.
  • Remove excess leaves in the fall. Having a few leaves is great for catching sediment and creating critter habitat, but too many leaves will create mats and slow down water infiltration.
  • Regularly remove sediment that makes it past the pretreatment chamber.
  • After the 10-year life of the garden, consider a refresh. Hire professionals to remove all plants, mulch, and accumulated sediment and debris, and power wash the retaining wall and pretreatment chamber. Then, add new mulch and replant, salvaging mature plants whenever possible. This relatively inexpensive investment can buy another 10 years of function.

Most importantly, don't be intimidated by maintaining your rain garden. There is plenty of room for trial and error. The more time you spend in your garden, the more comfortable you'll become with maintaining it!
Volunteers weeding a rain garden during a community rain garden cleanup in Anoka county
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