What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden designed to capture and absorb stormwater runoff by allowing it to infiltrate into the ground much faster than that of a typical lawn. The rain garden’s depression temporarily stores runoff, filters it through plant and other organic material, and enables that water to percolate into the ground rather than running off (VTRG manual). Rain gardens simulate the runoff treatment provided by natural areas, such as forests or meadows. They are typically small in size, ranging usually from 60 to 180 square feet, making them perfect for residential or small-scale commercial installation.


What are the benefits of having a rain garden?

Pollution Control

Rain gardens filter out sediment and other pollutants (like animal waste, brake dust, oils and automotive chemicals) by capturing the first flush of rain (or first inch or so of rainwater runoff) which tends to contain the highest concentration of pollutants. When localized runoff flows into a rain garden the water slows down and spreads, allowing the solids to drop out over a wide area and eventually be absorbed by the soil and plants.

Flooding Protection & Water Conservation

By positioning a rain garden at least 10 feet from your home and directing runoff into the rain garden, it is possible to reduce the amount of rain that flows into your basement and toward the sewer. By holding this relatively clean water and allowing it to soak into the ground, a rain garden can reduce localized flooding, replenish the local groundwater and improve water quality. Additionally, once they are established, rain gardens only need to be watered during heat waves or long periods without rain. This helps to reduce residential water usage and conserve groundwater resources.

Habitat Creation

Rain gardens are planted with “deep-rooted native plants” which are used to infiltrate rain water in wet times and sense/locate water in dry times. Native plants are required because they are adapted to the climate, seasons and weather and will survive the best. Native plants will support a variety of birds (local and migrating), butterflies, beneficial insects, pollinators, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitat, shelter, and food sources.