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Rain Gardens & Bioretention CellsRain gArden

Rain gardens are just what they sound like - gardens designed to soak up rain water. A shallow depression collects a few inches of water and allows it to be absorbed into the ground or by plants instead of flowing into nearby streams and lakes. Plants and soil trap, absorb and filter pollutants found in stormwater runoff including fertilizers, pesticides, oil, grease and metals. A bioretention cell does exactly the same thing as a rain garden, only it's bigger.


Rain gardens are typically planted with wildflowers and other native vegetation. Native plants have roots that grow twice as deep as the plants are tall, making them very efficient at absorbing water. Each year about one-third of the roots die, leaving deep tunnels for water and oxygen to filter into the ground and nurture new plant growth. These plants are the basis for restoring natural ecosystems to open space, residential, and urban areas. Rain gardens are diverse, beautiful habitats to many animals that we don't normally see.

Watch some great videos produced by the University of Connecticut that show the process of chosing a location for the rain  garden, and digging the rain garden. Another source of videos showing the process comes from Mitch Woodward who works with the NC Cooperative Extension and has filmed the process of putting rain gardens into the ground in NC. 

Rain Gardens:

Improve water quality;
Increase the amount of water that filters into the ground, recharging the aquifer;
Prevent flooding, erosion and drainage problems;
Protect streams and lakes from pollutants carried by urban stormwater;
Enhance the beauty of our community;
Provide valuable habitat for birds, frogs, butterflies and manu beneficial insects.


Rain Garden DiagramIf you're interested in improving water quality in your back yard, please contact us. Stormwater SMART staff are certified to design and construct residential rain gardens. We'll help you find everything from materials to volunteers to construct your rain garden. Rain gardens make great Eagle Scout projects, are great additions to parks and other public spaces, and are considered an asset to your property. Improving water quality couldn't look any nicer!







Links and Resources

Download the Stormwater SMART Raingardens Brighten Yards and Improve Water Quality brochure

NC State University & A&T State University Cooperative Extension Backyard Raingarden Website

Low Impact Development Center Rain Garden Design Templates

NCSU Cooperative Extension Step-by-step Rain Garden Manual

Recommended Plants for Rain Gardens in Central North Carolina


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