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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Driveways, Pools & Outdoor Living > Rain Garden

Rain Garden Cost


How Much Does a Rain Garden Cost?

 
low costDo-It-Yourself Rain Garden: $100-$2,000average costProfessionally Installed Rain Garden: $1,500-$3,000+high costCommercial, Industrial or Institutional Rain Garden: $4,000-$16,000

A rain garden is shallow, dish-like depression that is landscaped with water-tolerant plants; the soil is altered by deep digging and soil amendments to increase water infiltration into the surrounding soil. Pipes, extended downspouts or French drains direct storm runoff into the rain garden. This creates a temporary pond a few inches deep which typically drains away within 24-48 hours as the water is absorbed by plants or infiltrates into the surrounding soil, recharging groundwater supplies. Experts estimate that a rain garden should be about 20% the size of the roof, patio or pavement areas draining into it, or about 100 to 400 square feet (8'x12.5' to 16'x25') for an average family home.

Typical costs:

  • Materials for a do-it-yourself rain garden can cost $1-$5 a square foot, or $100-$2,000 for a 100- to 400-square-foot rain garden, depending on the amount of landscaping and how many of the plants and other supplies need to be purchased new. The Rain Garden Alliance provides a calculator[1] for estimating the cost of a simple rain garden. More elaborate designs have underground drainage and overflow piping systems, and cost more to install. For example, James City County[2] in Virginia estimates that DIY installation of a simple 150-square-foot residential rain garden can cost $100-$200, while one the same size but with underdrain and overflow piping can cost $1,500.
  • Professional installation typically costs about $10-$20 a square foot, or $1,500-$3,000 or more for 150 square feet, depending on the complexity of the design, the amount and variety of the landscaping, and how the water is directed into the rain garden.
  • Installing a rain garden on a commercial, industrial or institutional site can cost $10-$40 a square foot, or $4,000-$16,000 for 400 square feet, according to Watershed Activities to Encourage Conservation[3] .
Related articles: Rain Barrel, Cistern, Dry Well, Rain Harvesting

What should be included:
  • A landscape designer or gardener should help pick the most effective site, plants and design for the rain garden. Plants used in a rain garden should have deep roots and be able to tolerate standing water for short periods of time; plants native to the area are strongly recommended. The 10,000 Rain Gardens Initiative provides a illustrated, alphabetical list of rain garden plants[4] and a plant-picking tool[5] to search based on USDA plant hardiness zones[6] and other factors.
  • Rain gardens are typically longer than they are wide, and are perpendicular to the slope of the land. The Groundwater Foundation provides an overview of rain gardens and the Backyard Farmer program at the University of Nebraska posts a video of its rain garden project[7] .
  • Before starting to dig, call 811[8] to have utility companies come and mark any underground utility lines; or contact local utility companies directly.
  • The primary maintenance required is weeding, particularly in the first few years until the plants are well established. After a storm, check to see if standing water remains for more than 24-48 hours. If drainage is slow, it may be necessary to dig a small opening in the lip of the rain garden and fill it with gravel for drainage, or to re-dig and re-level the rain garden area.
Additional costs:
  • Not all soils are suitable for a rain garden; the University of Nebraska lists two simple, do-it-yourself tests[9] to determine if the soil on a particular site is suitable. If that's not sufficient, a formal soil test can cost $15-$75 or more, depending on what's included, and a formal percolation test can cost $100-$1,000 depending on site size and conditions, and the number of test holes.
  • A downspout extension can cost $10-$100 or more, depending on length and whether installation is included. French drains typically cost $10-$30 a linear foot, including installation, or $300-$1,500 for 30'-50'.
Discounts:
  • Plant costs can be cut significantly by using seeds, cuttings or seedlings from native plants growing in the area.
Shopping for a rain garden:
  • Rain gardens can be constructed with materials available at local home improvement and hardware stores or plant nurseries. Minnesota offers a rain garden design workbook[10] that guides homeowners through all aspects of planning and creating a rain garden, and Wisconsin provides a how-to rain garden manual[11] that illustrates the process.
  • Professional installation is typically done by a landscaper or gardener, although it can be done by a handyman or day laborer if the homeowner does the design work and selects the plants.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.raingardenalliance.org/right/calculator
  2.  www.protectedwithpride.org/images/pdfs/RainGardenshandout04.pdf
  3.  www.watershedactivities.com/projects/fall/raingrdn.html
  4.  rainkc.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.main/index.htm
  5.  rainkc.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.search/index.htm
  6.  www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
  7.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0r4weoUSgI
  8.  www.call811.com/state-specific.aspx
  9.  www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g1758/build/g1758.pdf
  10.  www.faribaultcountyswcd.com/FileLib/Rain%20Garden%20Design%20Templates.pdf
  11.  dnr.wi.gov/newurl.html
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