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A rain garden is a shallow, landscaped depression that catches and holds stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as driveways, roofs, and compacted lawns. A rain garden slows the flow of water and allows it to infiltrate into the soil rather than enter stormwater sewers. Rain gardens are typically planted with native plants and grasses that have root systems that help soak up water and help water infiltrate the soil.
Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden's Rainscaping Guide to learn about rain garden types and how to tell if a rain garden is right for your site.
Why Plant a Rain Garden?
Government studies show that stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces is responsible for a large amount of the pollution found in our rivers, lakes, and streams. A rain garden acts as both a sponge and a filter to capture stormwater as well as the pollutants it carries with it.
Impervious surfaces have replaced soils that would otherwise readily absorb rainwater allowing it to soak in and replenish our groundwater. The result is an increase in the amount of stormwater (volume) in creeks after a rain as well as the speed at which it travels (velocity). Left unaddressed, stormwater increases water pollution, erodes stream banks, widens creek beds, and results in propery loss, sedimentation, and flooding.
In addition to improving water quality, a rain garden beautifies property and creates habitat for wildlife, such as birds and butterflies.
Large scale use and acceptance of rain gardens in a community can save tax dollars by reducing the need to build bigger stormwater drainage facilities and projects to stabilize creek banks.
To see some local examples of rain gardens, go to our Rainscaping Projects page.
Rain Garden Creation Tools
Learn how to incorporate sustainable landscaping that reduces stormwater runoff and improves local water quality. Rain gardens and other solutions are explored.
Rain Gardening Chapter
Chapter Two of A Guide to Native Landscaping in Missouri, a collaborative project between the Missouri Department of Conservation and Shaw Nature Reserve, is titled “Rain Gardening and Storm-water Management.”
ShowMe Rain Gardens
SMRG promotes rain gardens in the Greater St. Louis Region.
Grow Native! offers a landscape design for a rain garden utilizing native plants.