Caring for your rain garden is no different than caring for any flower garden; in fact, if you use native plants in your garden, the care and maintenance may even be easier! Most of the work that needs to be done will be in the first year or two while the plants are becoming established.
Caring for your garden the first several weeks after planting is critical to its success. The most important tasks in the first year are watering and weeding. As with any garden, young, establishing plants need about an inch of rainfall or water per week. Mother Nature may provide this during parts of the summer, but you should water the young plants during dry spells.
The best way to keep weeds out is to keep a 3”-4” layer of mulch in place. Placing 6-8 sheets of newspaper under the mulch adds an extra layer of protection. Of course, this won’t completely eliminate weeds. So you don’t mistake a young rain garden plant for an unwanted weed, it helps to place identification tags next to your plant when you put them in. This also helps others learn about rain garden plants while they admire your garden!
By the second or third season your plants should be fairly well established. Most of the plants will be able to handle short periods of drought, though you may need to water during longer drought periods. If you’ve planted native plants, your main task will be cutting back dead vegetation in the spring to clean up the garden for the new season, and occasionally providing a fresh layer of mulch.