What is a Stormwater Garden?
There are several names for a stormwater garden: rain garden,
bioretention swale, vegetated swale, and others; all names will be used
interchangeably throughout this article. They refer to gardens created
to soak up rain water from surfaces that cannot soak it up: roofs,
driveways, parking lots, sidewalks. Stormwater gardens are planted with
wild flowers and other native vegetation and generally replace
conventional lawns, grassy swales, or storm drains.
A rain garden has many environmental benefits. It absorbs more water
than a lawn will, slowing down the rush of rain water. The plants in the
garden capture silt and gravel that can be transported by rain and snow
melt. They also improve water quality by helping to remove pollutants
like nitrates, phosphates, or petroleum pollutants, and cool the rain
water down after it has been heated up by the pavement. This cooling is
critical as heated stormwater can impact wildlife that lives in streams
Rain gardens are beautiful. They are landscaped with native plants
that do well in the type of environment that they've been planted and so
need little upkeep with watering and require no fertilizing. They
provide habitat for wildlife, such as birds, insects, and other living
things. They improve air quality by removing carbon dioxide (a
greenhouse gas) and other air pollutants, and add oxygen to the air.
A rain garden should only be mowed down once or twice each year and
replaces a section of lawn that may have previously needed regular
mowing; thus they decrease noise and air pollution due to mowing and