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Rain Garden for a Wet Year – 2013

I planned this garden in February 2013, excavated in March, planted in April and May.  Designed to slow and hold water running down my steep driveway, the garden is about 10 x 25 feet.  We cleared the site of trees and excavated a level-bottomed trough about 18 inches deep (I think of it as a bathtub designed to fill up to the top and drain slowly).  After a soil test, the garden area was filled with 1/3 original topsoil, 1/3 mushroom soil (composted manure), and 1/3 wood mulch and amended with lime.  (More photographs and information to follow).

Plant List

(First links are to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, The University of Texas at Austin; Second are to the Natural Resources Conservation Service Plants Database, USDA)


Grasses, perennials, and ferns

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) | NPIN (from seed) 1x

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) | NPIN (transplanted from friend’s garden) 3x

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye) | NPIN (from seed) 3x
Plants Profile for Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) | NPIN (It may be too wet for this here in the long run) 2x

Eurybia spectabilis (Eastern showy aster) | NPIN (transplanted from my garden) 6x

Iris fulva (Copper iris) | NPIN (transplanted from my yard) 2x

Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie blazing star) | NPIN (transplanted from my garden) 5x

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern) | NPIN (transplanted from my garden)  4x

Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint) | NPIN (transplanted from my garden) 1x

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)|NPIN (from seed) 3x

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass) | NPIN (transplanted from my lawn) 3x

Virgatum (Switchgrass) | NPIN (from seed) 3x



Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon Holly) | NPIN 3x

Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire) | NPIN (transplanted from a friend’s garden) 1x



Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea) | NPIN (it was too wet – root rot.  But I love this plant and want to find a good place in the yard for another)

Ironweed (groundhogs ate the seedlings, but turns out this plant can spread aggressively through rhizomes).  I plan to replace it with Eutrochium purpureum (Purple joepyeweed) | NPIN


Bibliography and Resources

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – The University of Texas at Austin (plant list information) West Michigan Environmental Action Council (a great How-To site) Beautiful Solutions to Water Pollution Website developed by RainScaping Campaign: An Environmental Partnership for Stormwater Runoff Solutions for Anne Arundel County, MD

Virginia DCR for native plants and their publications (I used their Piedmont plant lists)

Wildflower Farm (seed source)


Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District for funding and expert assistance.

Mary Prevo, August 2013


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