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What is a Rain Garden?

Updated on August 18, 2014

What is a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is an intentional man made depression in the soil planted with deep rooted native grasses, flowers, and plants. The rain garden absorbs rainwater runoff which is diverted to the rain garden from downpouts, driveways, sidewalks, and curb runoff. The idea is to catch the rain water run off prior to it reaching the storm sewer system.

By diverting the rain water runoff into a rain garden, the native plants with their deep roots can use the water and also break down the small amounts of pollutants from this runoff, breaking down and filtering out pollutants that normally would run straight into rivers and streams. When run off from one sources combines with all the other run off sources, the amount of pollutants that ends up in any one particular river or stream is quite alot. However, if each run off source was instead diverted to a rain garden, the amount of pollutants ending up in our freshwater would be greatly decreased. The increase in plant life also helps reduce air pollutants, as the plants use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. This is especially helpful if the rain garden is planted in urban areas near streets and parkways.

Rain Gardens also decrease the amount of soil erosion from rain water run off, by diverting the rain water into a pond to be absorbed slowly by the natural plants and flower in the rain garden.

Rain Gardens also replenish the ground water in the location of the rain garden, instead of rain water collectively being funneled from many locations into one river or stream. This in turn, helps prevent flooding in rivers and streams.

Rain Gardens, when set up correctly, can also conserve water when used to water your residential vegetable and flower gardens. Usually this is done by having a series of rain gardens inter-connected, where the first garden has deep rooted native plants that exist well in wet conditions, while the last of a series of connected rain gardens would water vegetables and flowers that need water but can't handle any standing water. The first rain garden handles all the water diverted from downspouts, and when it overflows the water is channeled into the next rain garden, then the final rain garden would water the vegetables.

If you are diverting your rain water from your downspout to a rain garden as well as a rain barrel, you can buy a Downspout Diverter that can divert the water to the rain barrel until it is full, and any excess will continue down the downspout and into your rain garden.

Rain Gardens

This photo of a rain garden was taken by Roger Soh and shared under Creative Commons Attribution License.
This photo of a rain garden was taken by Roger Soh and shared under Creative Commons Attribution License. | Source

Benefits of a Rain Garden

  • Reduces erosion from rain water run off
  • Conserves water when used to water your vegetable garden, lawn, etc
  • Replenishes the ground water in each rain garden location, instead of it all going into the storm drainage system and into rivers
  • Reduces flooding
  • Reduces pollution in streams, rivers, lakes and other end sources of storm water run off

Rain Garden Pictures

Rain Garden Pictures taken by Roger Soh and shared under Creative Commons Share a Like License.
Rain Garden Pictures taken by Roger Soh and shared under Creative Commons Share a Like License. | Source
This Rain Garden Pictures was taken by Center for Neighborhood Technology and shared under Creative Commons Attribution License
This Rain Garden Pictures was taken by Center for Neighborhood Technology and shared under Creative Commons Attribution License | Source

How to Install a Rain Garden

Rain Garden Teaches Sustainability

How to Build a Rain Garden with a Downspout Diverter

Use a Rain Garden to water your Vegetable Garden

Plants for Rain Gardens

Rain Garden Design Planning

Downspout Diverter

Comments - Questions - Rants & Raves

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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      My son just dug one of these for a friend. The downspout from the roof was extended to drain into the garden. It's an interesting idea, providing you select the right plants. You certainly posted a lot of helpful videos!

    • jetta17 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information in this here hub. If I lived in a place that recieved more rainfall, this would be a good idea! Personally, I think that state insitutions need to be constructing these more often. They are great ways to reduce pollution.


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