What is the difference between a rain garden and a water garden? Probably the ratio of the water feature to land feature. A water garden has more of its focus on water with the plants usually wetland plants only. A rain garden has water as part of the feature. The water comes and goes depending on water table and recent precipitation. Water gardens tend to have more standing water visible when it is the rainy season. Some rain gardens look like cottage gardens. Is there a difference? I would say yes and no. Rain gardens like anything need something showy and often will have a few ornamental flowers in them, if for no other reason than for border plants since we live in prairie areas normally with many plants during June and July rising at least 2 feet to 3 feet tall. However, rain gardens do tend to have more native plantings, butterfly favorite blooms as well as food plants like milkweed and millet. The goal of a rain garden is not only to store excessive precipitation, but to be an oasis for birds, amphibians, and insects like dragon flies. Like a cottage garden, plantings tend to be tightly spaced to prevent weeds and invasives from overpowering the rain garden. How do I know if my property is suitable for a rain garden? In my case, my backyard and my neighbor's backyard always had standing water to the point where it often was too wet to mow or walk. My neighbor tried tiling his property as well as regrading his yard. Nothing worked very well for a long time. Finally, when I put in a water garden and added moss to my yard, our back yards and especially his side yard are much better as the water has some place to go. My water garden, currently contains 70 cubic feet of water that is ponding after the last week of rains that we have. Even if we get a dry spell, the reserve of water available for other plants are enough to carry them to the next series of rains. They also make a nice refuge for wetland animals and are a place where nesting birds can take a bath. Rain gardens done well, form a habitat as well as a beautiful place to enjoy.
The Below Rain/Butterfly garden cost in equipment and vegetation about $400 to install.