Rain Gardens

For homeowners, landscaping can become an integral part of managing stormwater.  Surfaces such as patios, roofs and driveways, generate runoff when a storm event occurs.  Directing runoff to a rain garden allows the stormwater to slow, soak and stabilize beforing entering the local watershed and stream. 

A rain garden is a garden which takes advantage of rainfall and stormwater runoff in its design and plant selection. It is typically a small garden designed to withstand the extremes of moisture and concentrations of nutrients, particularly Nitrogen and Phosphorus, which are found in stormwater runoff. They are ideally placed close to the source of the runoff and serve to slow the stormwater as it travels downhill, giving stormwater more time to infiltrate and less opportunity to gain momentum and erosive power. 

A combination of native and ornamental plants, which thrive in a variety of soil conditions, is important for the aesthetics and function of the rain garden.  Plants will provide uptake of rainwater and nutrients, controlling the volume and quality of the runoff soaking into the soil. 

Homeowners can direct runoff from their roof downspout to the rain garden once the plants are established.  Future maintenance of rain gardens include plant care, mulching and soil enhancements as necessary to maintain infiltration rates.  Homeowners should also:

  • Water the rain garden until plants are established
  • Prune and weed it as necessary
  • Consider erosion control as necessary
  • Harvest excess growth
  • Mulch and inspect mulch annually 

There are numerous benefits to a rain garden, which include pollution control, flood protection, habitat creation and water conservation.  A rain garden will also:

  • Filter runoff pollution
  • Recharge local groundwater
  • Conserve water
  • Improve water quality
  • Protect rivers & streams
  • Remove standing water in yards
  • Reduce mosquito breeding
  • Increase beneficial insects that elimate pest insects
  • Reduce potential of home flooding 
  • Create habitat for birds & butterflies
  • Survive drought seasons
  • Reduce garden maintenance
  • Enhance sidewalk appeal
  • Increase garden enjoyment

For more information, visit:

www.raingardennetwork.com/about.htm
www.epa.gov
www.dep.pa.gov