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Posted on April 24th, 2023 in Forestry, Gardening, How To, Plants | No Comments »

A rain garden is a green infrastructure project that can improve the quality of stormwater, minimize pollution, and enhance biodiversity and pollinator habitat. Purdue, Iowa State and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant researchers explain how to site, size, design, install and maintain a rain garden, and provide advice on plant selection, too.

When stormwater runs off streets, driveways, roofs, and other impervious surfaces, it can move pollutants such as oil, fertilizers, heat, and chemicals to storm drains and eventually to natural bodies of water, such as lakes, streams, and rivers. These natural water sources are valuable resources for recreation, irrigation, and drinking water. Green infrastructure projects, such as rain gardens, can improve the quality of stormwater, reduce flooding, minimize pollution, enhance biodiversity and pollinator habitat, and create educational and recreational opportunities.

Image of Introduction to Rain Garden Design Publication Cover

Green infrastructure includes a range of practices that allows stormwater to infiltrate into the soil or be stored for later use, thereby reducing flows to sewer systems and surface waters (U.S. EPA, 2022). A rain garden is one such practice. It is a smallscale landscape feature planted with native shrubs, perennial plants, or flowers in a shallow depression. It captures and stores runoff, allowing it to slowly infiltrate into the soil. At the property scale and when properly located, rain gardens lessen erosion in steeply sloped areas, reduce the potential for water to flow into basements, and minimize ponding in areas with poor drainage. The net effect of multiple green infrastructure practices can reduce streambank erosion and downstream flooding as stream flows decrease. Water quality is also affected as plants and microbes in the soil filter nutrients and some heavy metals as the stormwater soaks into the soil.

To receive the free download for the Introduction to Rain Garden Design please visit The Education Store.

Community Development, Purdue Extension Program
Environmental Planning in Community Plans, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces: Creating Healthy Communities, The Education Store
Conservation through Community Leadership, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
Planting Forest Trees and Shrubs in Indiana, The Education Store
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Tipping Point Planner
Sustainable Communities Extension Program
Subscribe – Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources Calendar, workshops and Conferences

Kara A Salazar, Sustainable Communities
Purdue Community Development Extension Specialist

Sara Winnike McMillan, Associate Professor
Purdue University

Payton Ginestra, Natural Resources and Environmental Science
Purdue University

Laura Esman, Water Quality Program Coordinator
Purdue University

John Orick, Purdue Extension Master Gardener State Coordinator
Purdue University


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