How to build a rain garden that fights climate change and prevents basement flooding

What Is a Rain Garden and How Does it Work?


Rain gardens are shallow depressions filled with loose, deep soil to allow for the natural filtration of stormwater. They are planted with low maintenance native plants that attract pollinators. By adding rain gardens to your landscaping you can significantly reduce the risk of flooding on your property while preventing water pollution and supporting the biodiversity of our Toronto neighborhoods.

By putting in that rain garden, you are basically putting in a living sponge around your home and building a little line of defense that again really helps to offset the stormwater that flows in the lake with a great force.
–  Marc Yamaguchi, Rain Gardens United

Check out this video by Rain Gardens United about making Toronto rain garden friendly:


The Many Benefits of Building a Rain Garden

  • Significant Reduction of  The Potential of Flooding in Your Home 

Aside from making your property more attractive, a rain garden is also a practical preventative measure that can greatly benefit your home. The garden greatly reduced the potential of flooding, drainage problems, and stream bank erosions by acting as a barrier between rainwater and your home.


  • Preserves the Natural Water Cycle and Protects Local Rivers, Lakes, Fish and Drinking Water Sources

Canada has 7% of the world’s renewable fresh water.

Aside from benefiting your own property, these gardens are ecologically friendly and help build resiliency for cities by combating the effects of climate change. The filtration process helps the natural water cycle as well. By limiting the amount of water that enters the local storm drain system, the garden reduces the number of pollutants from yards and roads that run into waterways.


  • Creates a Diverse and Healthy Ecosystem

Improving the health of bees and other pollinators is a necessity. Without pollinators, much of the food we eat and the natural habitats we enjoy would not exist.

Native plants attract pollinators which helps regulate the ecosystem by maintaining a diversity of plants and can help improve the health of Toronto’s pollinators by making your outdoor space pollinator-friendly.


  • Low Maintenance solution

Rain gardens are planted with beautiful and hardy plants which don’t require a lot of upkeep because they require little to no watering which results in a low maintenance garden that looks beautiful. Native plants are perennials that will return every year, making your landscaping look more luscious as time passes. 


how to Build a Rain Garden

  • Step i: Dig a depression.

Make sure to call Ontario One Call before you dig!  Once your locates are marked,  and you’ve decided on the location, the size and the style of your new garden, it’s time to start digging! Ideally, rain gardens should be dug to a depth of approximately 85cm or deeper if you want a smaller garden.  


  •  Step ii: create a soakaway & connect the downspout

A soakaway area balances your garden and is a key to the effectiveness of your garden. A soakaway pit is a hole in the ground filled with a permeable material like gravel to allow for water to percolate through into the soil.

First, we add a layer of  ¾ crushed stone wrapped in filter cloth landscaping fabric. Then we top this with an absorbent soil mix which usually contains a combination of compost and sand. This mix is designed to allow water to infiltrate the garden easily and quickly.


  • Step iii: add plants & river rock

This is the fun part! There is a range of native plants to choose from that are both water-tolerant and drought-tolerant. You can choose the plants that fit your aesthetic! We then add river rocks and boulders on the top layer of the garden to help slow the velocity of water coming out of the downspouts.

If you’re looking for plants in the GTA, we highly recommend the nursery Native Plants in Claremont, they’re committed to promoting Ontario’s native plants and specialize in seed grown native perennial wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs.


  • Step iv: top with Mulch.

Once all of the plants are in, we cover your new garden with a layer of mulch or wood chips. This layer is from 5-10cm and is an essential part of the process. The mulch helps with the filtration and absorption of rainwater and assists in keeping out weeds while also resisting drought. Lastly, it ties your garden together by giving it a neat and tidy appearance.


Don’t Want to Build it Yourself?
Let Us Do the Heavy Lifting!


  • Schedule a rain garden consultation

 If you live in Toronto or the GTA and would like to hire someone to install your rain garden get in touch with us to schedule a consultation and estimate! We work with the best people to provide a quality service and experience.


  • decide on a concept design and any additional landscaping elements or stonework

We work with the experts, Rain Garden United, to put together a plan and concept design to create the best option for your property.  We’ll consult with you to decide on the location, size, and style of your rain garden. Want to add an interlock patio or natural stone steps? Inka Stoneworks specializes in hardscaping and can handle any additional elements that you’d like to add to your project.

How long will it take to install?  The project installation could range from 1-2 days for a small garden and up to a week for a large garden.


  • How much does a rain garden Cost?

Building a rain garden can be a cost-effective landscaping solution for your yard.  If you want to hire a contractor to install the garden for you, the price will depend on the size and scope of the project. Remember, this is an investment! At Inka Stoneworks,  installing a rain garden will range anywhere from $3000 to $15,000 depending on the size and complexity of the landscaping project. This includes the project consultation and plan, excavation, selecting the right native plants, installing the garden and disposal of any unwanted materials.


Want to learn more about rain gardens? Check out Rain Gardens United, they’re a non-profit dedicated to building rain gardens, educating the public about stormwater management, and lobbying governments to include rain gardens as part of that management. Another great resource is TRCA’s guide to building and maintaining a rain garden.

If you’re looking for a solution to manage stormwater on your property, rain gardens can be the perfect option. By investing in your landscape you’ll add curb appeal while protecting the environment.