Step 4: Excavate the Basin

Excavating the basin of the selected garden area
Photo: William Wright
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Using a shovel or an excavator—you can rent one for about $230 a day or just hire an operator—dig down to the depth you need. Create a flat bottom so that water will percolate down evenly. If the rain garden is on a slope, you can pile some of the excavated soil into a berm on the low side to retain the water. For stability, stomp the berm soil down well and make the base at least 2 feet wide and the top at least 1 foot wide. The peak of the berm should be at least 6 inches higher than the water level when the rain garden is full. Also excavate for a dry well, if included; the one for this rain garden is about 2 feet square and 3 feet deep.
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    Tools List

    • bucket
      Bucket
    • garden hose
      Hose
    • Gas powered sod cutter
      Sod cutter or spade
    • to remove grass layer. Sod cutter can be rented for $80 a day
    • pointed shovel
      Shovel
    • or rent a backhoe for $230 a day
    • metal garden rake
      Rake
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow
    • hacksaw
      Hacksaw
    • hand trowel
      Trowel

    Shopping List

    1. Spray paint

    2. Compost

    3. Stones

    4. Plants

    5. Smooth or corrugated piping to connect to a gutter downspout