Designing your Rain Garden

RainGardenGoal: Work in small groups to design rain garden planting.

Objectives: Students will…

  • Share research findings with small group
  • Practice group decision making
  • Draw a to-scale diagram to represent their design ideas
  • Determine plant counts based on spacing guidelines and a scale drawing

Materials: copies from previous lesson plus an extra copy per group of Rain Garden Species Selection Worksheet, graph paper (the larger the better), plant catalogs, colored pencils, rulers

Advance Preparation: : Develop a plan for selecting a garden design from all of the amazing designs your students will develop.

Timing Estimate: 1 class
10 min students share research with small group
5 min make scale outline of garden
30 min Planting plan and record
final plant list
5 min clean up
Selecting a design will happen on a timeline of your choosing.

Research Sharing

Explain to students that they will first share their plant research with the rest of their small group. The group will discuss plants and eliminate any that don’t fit all the criteria for the garden: soil type, sun availability, moisture requirement and theme.

Garden Designing

Give each student or group a piece of graph paper and ask them to draw the rain garden outline to scale, using as much of the page as possible. They should label the scale somewhere on the page. If you have poster size graph paper, this is a great use for it.

Students should work as a group to decide on a planting plan for the rain garden. Encourage them to think through designing the garden to make best use of the plants’ characteristics (ex: put tall plants in the center or along the back of the garden and low growing plants along the edge). Refer to page 18 in Rain Garden Guidelines for Southwest Ohio for garden design tips.

Once they have a general design, groups should mark individual plants based on how far the plants should be spaced according to their research and scale.

Give students another copy of the Species Selection Worksheet and ask them to record their final selections on it, along with the number of plants needed for each species in their design. One of the group members could be working on this while the final plant placement is happening.

Selecting a Design

The hardest part of the process may be selecting a final planting plan! You may want to have students present their plans to each other and perform an evaluation to make sure wet tolerant plants are located in the low area, plants are spaced appropriately, etc. You could ask an outside expert, school team, or other decision maker to listen to presentations of the designs and make a verdict. Or you could simply select your favorite. Develop a plan that will work for your situation.

Click here to download PDF file.