Rain Garden Maintenance for Spring and Early Summer

Love it or Lose it?

Desirable plants might not be the only things thriving with the early summer sun and rain. Getting a handle on weed removal as soon as you can tell your intended plants from the unwanted volunteers is helpful in reducing the time spent dealing with them. But sometimes is it difficult to determine which plant you are looking at! Some resources we use to assist with plant identification:

  • Your original planting plan. If you don’t have a copy of your plan and you worked with the RWMWD Stewardship Grant program, let us know. We keep those records and will likely have a list for you!
  • Smartphone plant identification apps, such as Seek by iNaturalist, PlantSnap and Picture This. These apps use your phone’s camera to suggest potential identification. The apps are fallible, so it’s best to double-check by looking at other photos of the plant they identify.
  • Regular spacing. Plants in the gardens were placed with even separation; such as 2 feet apart. Even if you can’t tell which species you are seeing, the pattern of spacing can help you determine if the plant was intentional or is a volunteer.

Get Them Out

Now that you know who is who, you are set to weed away! Here are a few helpful hints for successful hand weeding:

  • Weed when plants are small, if possible
  • Weed when the ground is moist. If it hasn’t rained, you can water to facilitate weeding
  • Minimize soil disturbance, and cover or tamp open soil to prevent daylighting new weed seeds
  • Remove weeds before they make seeds to reduce the need for future weeding

Fill it In

Once you have evicted the trespassers, it’s a great time to assess the health of the desirable plants in your garden. Did any of your flowers, grasses, or shrubs not survive the winter? If so this is a good time to replace them.  If it appears that a whole section of the same type of plant did not make it, you may consider replacing those with another species – more of a type that is currently thriving in your garden, or another raingarden-friendly plant that you don’t currently have. Please let us know if you would like suggestions for plants to consider.

Monitor Water Level and Remove Sediment

Check your garden after it rains – is it holding water for longer than 48 hours? Remove sediment and trash. Removal should be done throughout the year but is particularly important right after snowmelt. Clear sand and other debris from the inlet, and remove any sediment accumulated on top of the mulch.