Opt for the prettier rain-redirecting method. Install a rain chain to avoid a wet trouble spot under the downspout, and plant an annuals-filled garden plan centered around the rain chain.

By Risa QuadeJenny Krane and Brie Passano
Updated July 29, 2019
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The musical sound of water splashing from one cup into another adds personal style and serenity to the garden that a plain downspout just can't do. Rain chains channel water away from the house’s foundation, preventing puddles of mud that drown out landscaping plants. They're more attractive than plain downspouts and double as a water feature.

Rain chains originated in Japan hundreds of years ago as a more aesthetically pleasing way to guide water off of roofs while simultaneously accentuating a temple’s or a home’s architecture. Rain chains add a new element to your landscape and come in a variety of styles from metal chains to intricate linked shapes such as lotus blooms or fish that help direct water from the gutters to a basin below. They can also be paired with a rain barrel for a more attractive water reclamation system.

overall of rain chain garden with copper bowl, cannas, papyrus, verbena, coleus
Credit: Brie Passano

Make a Downspout Garden

Redirecting water off of your roof is just the first step. Then, you need to give the water a path down and make sure the surrounding landscaping will thrive in extra water. Incorporate a unique rain chain into your downspout garden for a more ornate look.

Detail of rain chain garden with papyrus, coleus, verbena, copper bowl
Credit: Brie Passano

Step 1: Create a Basin

Lay pavers or flagstones so they are angled away from the house’s foundation. Set the basin, like this copper rain chain receptacle, $34.63, Amazon, under the rain chain and on top of the pavers, making sure to tilt it away from the house and toward the yard.

Step 2: Install Rain Chain

Install the rain chain per manufacturer’s directions. If your chain doesn't come with one, be sure to use a sturdy gutter clip, like this aluminum gutter clip, $14.99, Amazon. Secure the other end of the chain to the ground to the basin as recommended to prevent a flailing chain during windy days.

Step 3: Plant Around Rain Chain

Surround the basin with well-draining soil and plants that can handle intermittent flooding. Select annuals for a fresh look each year. If you prefer perennials, choose grasses and shrubs native to local wetlands.

Selecting a Rain Chain

Once you know what length chain you need, the style, color, and finish are up to your personal taste. There are dozens of styles, so look for one that complements your home's exterior style as well as your preferred style.

Try this whimsical take on the classic lotus-shaped copper rain chain. Instead of plain flowers, the cups on this rain chain are actually small umbrellas! This rain chain is a little over 5 1/2 feet long, making it an ideal choice for a shed or low patio overhang.

Vintage garden-style always adds a little extra charm to your backyard. Use this watering can rain chain for a cute (but not adolescent) garden accent. The copper chain is 8 feet long and has a flamed-copper finish.

While many rain chains come with a shiny copper finish, you aren't limited to that. Look for chains like this one from Amazon that has a black, powder-coated finish instead. The lotus-shaped cups are made of aluminum, which will hold up just as well as copper, and the powder-coating gives the chain a matte finish.

The sound of trickling water is already a relaxing soundtrack in the garden. This rain chain also includes small metal bells to add an extra jingle. The simple, ringed design will fit into most garden styles.

Consider adding an attractive rain chain to your garden to channel water away from your house’s foundation. Whether you choose a vintage garden-style chain or a whimsical version, remember to look for a rain chain that complements your home's exterior style as well as your preferred style.


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