A rain garden is a sunken garden bed that captures stormwater runoff from hard surfaces like rooftops, sidewalks and driveways, and allows it to soak back into the ground naturally. They are planted with hardy, native perennials that filter pollutants commonly found in stormwater runoff. This helps reduce the overall amount of runoff and pollution that gets into our streams, and maintains the natural hydrology (the movement and distribution of water in the area, as it would be under natural conditions) so streams don’t go dry during the hot summer months.
Why build a rain garden?
When a landscape is covered in natural vegetation, most rainfall soaks into the ground. As we start adding roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and streets to the landscape, much of the rainfall can’t soak into the ground anymore. This can create a lot of problems for people and for our streams.
Rain gardens hold stormwater runoff and allow it to soak into the ground naturally. This prevents pollution from entering our local streams and wetlands, and helps recharge our groundwater. By planting a rain garden with native plants, you can create a beautiful, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant landscape feature, while also providing habitat for beneficial wildlife.
- Are an easy way for all of us to do our part to protect our streams and rivers.
- Are planted with beautiful, hardy, low-maintenance perennial plants.
- Provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects.
Alternatives to Rain Gardens:While rain gardens work for many different yards, not all yards can have one! The roof area running into the downspout, soil drainage, yard space and amount of available unpaved area are all factors to consider. One good alternative for small yards is to build a stormwater planter, which is something like a standing rain garden! You can see other examples of stormwater-managing features in the Stormwater Alternatives gallery.
See our section on Stormwater Planters!