Once you’ve decided on a location, size and shape for the garden, get ready to dig in! First – CALL BEFORE YOU DIG! Place a call to the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) at 1-800-362-2764. They will locate and mark any underground utilities near your site.
Your soil infiltration test determined the depth of your garden. If you have clay or compacted soil, till the soil below the bottom of your garden as much as possible and amend the soil with compost. This will help improve the infiltration rate.
Grade the interior of the garden so that it is flat. This will let the water spread out over a large, flat area. The side slopes of the garden should not be so steep that you can’t plant on them.
Add a “berm” (a small hill) on the downslope side of your garden to help keep the rain water in your garden, giving it time to infiltrate. You may want to use the soil you’ve removed from the garden bed to create the berm.
Finally, test your garden. After the bed is prepared, fill it with water to make sure it completely soaks in over 24 hours – and flows where you want it to go. Make sure water will flow away from your house if the garden fills up.
Photo (above): The excavated rain garden bed at Pattison Elementary in Milford, prior to planting.