Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are an environmentally friendly way to beautify your lawn's landscape while protecting water quality. Every time it rains, stormwater flows down roofs, driveways and other impervious surfaces, sometimes flooding basements or collecting in low spots. Other runoff continues on toward the street, picking up soil, pesticides and other contaminants before it enters storm drains that transport it to streams and lakes, often without treatment.

Think of a rain garden as a sponge - an environmentally friendly sponge - that is designed to soak up much of this runoff before it can do damage. A rain garden starts with a bowl-shaped bed of loose soil. The garden is planted with deep-rooted trees, bushes, flowers and other plants that help absorb the rainwater, which filters through layers of soil before entering the groundwater system.

With just a little effort, a rain garden can be a beautiful, low-maintenance addition to your lawn. Its contribution to our region's water quality may seem small. But if we all do our part, the total impact can be environment-changing.

Benefits for Homeowners
  • Rain gardens reduce the potential for basement flooding. A rain garden gives runoff a beneficial, safe place to go, helping to keep it away from your home's foundation.
  • Rain gardens reduce garden maintenance. A rain garden essentially "waters itself," requiring little or no additional irrigation. In fact, rain gardens are more likely than other gardens to survive droughts. Periodic weeding, mulching and pruning are all the maintenance they need. Because you don't need to fertilize or spray them, they make your yard a healthier place for your children and pets as well.
  • Rain gardens enhance curb appeal. Native plants are recommended for rain gardens because they are more tolerant of the local climate, soil, and water conditions.
  • Rain gardens increase garden enjoyment. Rain gardens are not only pleasing to look it, they are an ideal habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
  • Rain gardens reduce mosquitoes. In a properly designed rain garden, water will soak into the ground within 24 - 48 hours, long before mosquitoes have the opportunity to breed. They can also can be designed to attract the kinds of insects that eliminate pest insects.
Environmental Benefits
  • Rain gardens help improve water quality. The plantings in rain gardens help to filter contaminants from run-off, improving the quality of the water that recharges our groundwater. Your rain garden makes you part of a solution to stormwater pollution.
  • Rain gardens reduce the burden on public sewer systems. Rain gardens collect and use rainwater that would otherwise drain into the sewer system. By diverting this water, rain gardens decrease the flow to our wastewater treatment plants during storms, when flow typically peaks.
  • Rain gardens reduce sewer overflows and flooding. If adopted on a community or neighborhood scale, rain gardens can reduce combined sewer overflows and localized flooding.
  • Rain gardens protect rivers and streams. Polluted stormwater that enters rivers and creeks untreated can hurt both water quality and the wildlife that inhabit them. Excessive runoff can also erode banks and increase downstream flooding as well. Rain gardens can help minimize both.
  • Rain absorbed within a rain garden will filter pollutants otherwise delivered to treatment plants or directly to streams. Studies report greater than 90% of copper, lead and zinc, 50% of nitrogen and 65% of phosphorus can be filtered in a rain garden.

Additional Information