Modifying the soil with a top layer of materials such as sand, loam and compost that water can pass through more easily can greatly improve drainage. In some cases, the lawn may need to be tilled for a more aggressive modification, followed by seeds and fertilizers. Ideally, a complete rain garden should drain the water in 24 hours. This metric, as well as the porosity level of the soil you're building in, can help you determine how deep you should dig your garden.
Your rain garden can also be the end point of a downspout or the bed of a stream. You can place a rigid drain pipe at the end of a gutter to carry water away from problem areas. Or, if possible, simply dig the bed of a dry stream so that the gutter can be emptied to keep water away from problem areas.
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