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What is a Rain Garden?

If you’re blessed with a garden in the UK, you’ll have seen first-hand how unpredictable British weather can be. Left unattended, soil can be subject to flooding, creating unsightly boggy areas unsuitable for wildlife. 

This is where a rain garden can make all the difference. Quite simply, a rain garden helps you to make the most of Britain’s heavy rainfall in the most creative way you can. 

How does a rain garden work? 

A rain garden works by catching water that runs off roofs and other hard surfaces. It is a shallow depression of ground that forms at the bottom of a natural slope. It may also catch rainwater from driveways, patios or lawns. 

These areas help to absorb up to 90% of the nutrients and 80% of sediments from rainwater runoff. They are also better for irrigation, allowing up to 30% more water to soak into the ground. 

Unlike a water garden, pond or wetland, a rain garden is not designed to be wet all the time. Rather, it holds water during a significant period of rain, draining off after 12 to 48 hours. This makes it ideal for hosting plants that can stand waterlogging for up to 48 hours, such as a perennial sub-shrub or hosta. 

How to make a rain garden 

To make a rain garden, you will need a rill or channel of some kind to connect roof downpipes to the dip. Alternatively, you might have a water butt, rain chain, stormwater planter or pond.  

If you’ve not got access to a full lawn area, we highly recommend our raised bed rain garden. This negates the need to create a pond – ideal for developers with building restrictions. It also helps to create an attractive plant feature, suitable for supporting a variety of wildlife including insects and birds. 

Your rain garden should be: 

  • In full sun or minor shade 
  • In a well-drained area with only a 10% incline or less 
  • Ideally close to a pipe leading to the main drainage system, in case of excessive storms. 

Make sure drought-tolerant plants are closer to the edge, with wet-tolerant plants centred in the middle. Create a plan so that you can move plants around more easily.  

See our rain gardens in action

At Marmax, we are proud to produce environmentally friendly garden materials made from recycled plastics. We did just that when creating a raised bed rain garden in Oslo. You can find out more in our case study here. 

Ready to make your garden a success all year round? Browse our rain garden products here. 


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