Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a sunken garden designed to absorb rainwater from impervious areas such as roofs, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas. Rain gardens reduce runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground, as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters, which can cause erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater.

Several different factors should be taken into account when planning your rain garden.  The location of the garden, the types of plants used, and the size of the garden are important aspects of the planning process.  Gardens should be far enough from the house so that the water does not infiltrate into basements.  The location will determine if the garden captures just water from the roof or if it captures water from the roof and much of the lawn.  Native plant species are best for rain gardens because they

  • • require less maintenance
  • • are well adapted for the area
  • • and don't require pesticides and fertilizers.

There are many plants to choose from, your garden should be fun and well as functional, so choose plants that you will enjoy.  The size of the garden will determine how much water it will be capable of draining. 

The following links provide detailed information of preparing rain gardens.

Rain Gardens for Home Landscapes, a brochure by the Clean Water Campaign

Rain Gardens, A How-To Manual for Homeowners, by the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources

Create a Rain Garden, a publication of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council

The next link will help you select appropriate plants for your rain garden.

A Selection of Plants for Rain Gardens, a brochure by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County

A nice example of an urban rain garden at the
SUNY-ESF campus in Syracuse, New York.
Rain Garden at the Zen Center in Syracuse


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