Rain Gardens

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Rain gardens are a small depression, generally formed on a natural slope. Most rain gardens are designed to temporarily hold and sock in rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios and lawns. With the use of native shrubs, perennials and flowers rain gardens can be cost effective and a beautiful way to reduce the runoff coming from your property. Along with their beauty rain gardens provide food and shelter for butterflies, songbirds and other wildlife[1]. Planting a rain garden can enhance your landscape’s aesthetics. "Rain gardens allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground. They are effective in removing 90% of the nutrients and chemicals, along with 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff"(Groundwater foundation,2018)[2]. The more complex rain gardens with drainage systems and amended soils are often referred to as bio-retention [3].

Rain gardens are not a mosquito habitat

Rain gardens are not a mosquito habitat, the main reason being is that the water that collects in the rain garden dries up faster than the mosquito’s eggs can mature and become a pest to you or your home. Rain gardens may even attract a variety of beneficial insects like dragonflies which are known for eating mosquito populations[4].

Runoff is an issue?

Every time it rains we get what is called runoff, thanks to the P.E.S or the Pesticide Environmental Society we have a great example quote, “Runoff is the movement of water and any contaminants across the soil surface. It occurs when irrigation, rain or snow melt adds water to a surface faster than it can enter the soil. Water running off the land towards canals, streams, rivers and lakes can also move chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides may be moving with the runoff water if dissolved in the water or adsorbed to eroding soil particles.”[5] (Gardner, Ryan.2018) there are a few surfaces that can also cause runoff such as the impermeable surfaces of roofs or driveways which help in adding chemicals, oil, pollutants and bacteria. All of this is swept away into the storm drains untreated flowing towards nearby streams and ponds. In most cases though this all goes to our lakes. Much of the runoff that we have here goes to here drains to the French Broad River, then flows to the Tennessee River, then the Mississippi, and eventually flows to the Gulf of Mexico.[6] This quote from the Chesapeake Bay foundation of what can happen “This runoff can kill aquatic life, and make our waterways an unhealthy place to live, work, and play. Untreated storm water entering our streams can result in the contamination of our drinking water supplies or shell fishing waters; prohibitions on swimming, fishing or boating uses; injury to aquatic plants and animals; dangers to public health; and increased flooding. Polluted runoff is one of the most harmful sources of pollution to the Bay and its waters, and it's increasing.”[7] (The Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 2018) by building a rain garden we can help in this devastating affect that runoff is having on your water and hopefully reduce the amount of pollution entering the waterways and lakes.

The benefits can work for more than your home

The environment, rain gardens can help in reducing storm water runoff pollution, conserve water and improve water quality. But they can also contribute to increasing pollinator habitats and in preserving native plants. The next is social, many rain gardens can provide community engagement, while beautiful landscapes to enjoy for all. With the season-long blooms from the native pants an within the garden it can bring about beauty to the residences yards, along with being a host to butterflies, bees, and birds that seek out these vary plants. The best benefit of all with having a rain garden is being able to increase or help your property values and provide job training opportunities using the rain capturing techniques, which include not just rain gardens but also that of rain barrels which help to keep water out of people’s basements and from backing up in the streets. By buying a rain garden you are helping in making a new job for someone, because these rain collection techniques require trained professionals who know how to install and maintain rain gardens and rain barrels. This can help in creating new training opportunities for the people in the area[8].

Archival Resources for Further Research

Note: This section is required if there are relevant archival resources at the UWGB University Archives and Area Research Center or at the Wisconsin Historical Society. If you check and determine that there are not relevant archival sources, you can delete this section.

Article History

Format: [[leggcc24]] (2018-12-13); [[username2]] (YY-MM-DD); [[username3]] (YY-MM-DD)
For example: voelkerd (2015-10-12)


  1. Soaking up the rain:Rain Garden.Environmental protection agency.Accessed Dec.9, 2018.https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-rain-gardens
  2. All about rain gardens.Groundwater Foundation.Accessed Dec.9,2018.https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html
  3. Soaking up the rain:Rain Garden.Environmental protection agency.Accessed Dec.9, 2018.https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-rain-gardens
  4. Rain gardens. Chicago Botanical Garden. Accessed Dec.9,2018.https://www.chicagobotanic.org/conservation/rain_garden
  5. The Problem with runoff. Ryan Gardner,Pesticide Environmental Society. Accessed Dec. 12, 2018. https://pesticidestewardship.org/water/runoff/
  6. Stormwaterseries1. Accessed Dec.12, 2018. https://riverlink.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/stormwaterseriesfinal1.pdf
  7. Polluted runoff. Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Accessed Dec. 12, 2018. http://www.cbf.org/issues/polluted-runoff/
  8. Managing rain where it falls to revitalize Milwaukee communities.Cleanwisconsin. Accessed Dec.9,2018.https://www.cleanwisconsin.org/our-work/water/30th-street-mke/