Soak Up the Rain: Rain Gardens
A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape that collects rain water from a roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground. Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property. Rain gardens can also help filter out pollutants in runoff and provide food and shelter for butterflies, song birds and other wildlife.
More complex rain gardens with drainage systems and amended soils are often referred to as bioretention.
Note: Refer to the links in this section for important tips on how to locate your rain garden. These include areas to avoid and the need for accurate information about underground utilities before you begin to dig.
Information About Rain Gardens
Water-Smart Landscape Design Tips, Water Sense
Information about plant selection, soils, and maintenance.
Rain Gardens, University of Connecticut
Information on siting and sizing a rain garden, design, installation and long and short term maintenance. Also includes a series of Frequently Asked Questions and a Cost Calculator for estimating the cost to install a residential rain garden.
- Rain Gardens in Connecticut: A Design Guide for Homeowners, University of Connecticut (PDF) (12 pp, 6.6 MB, About PDF)
A colorful 12-page brochure introduces rain gardens and discusses how to plan and install them in the home landscape.
Connecticut Native Tree and Shrub Availability List, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (PDF)(12 pp, 256 K, About PDF)
A (January 2005) native tree and shrub availability list for locating native planting stock.
Resident's Guide to Rain Gardens, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF)(2 pp, 533 K, about PDF)
Introduces rain gardens, including information about what they are, the benefits and some common questions.
Rain Gardens, Reduce Runoff.org, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Save the Sound
Defines rain gardens, collaboration with partners, some available tools and resources.
Adding a Rain Garden to Your Landscape, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Introduces rain gardens and includes instructions and plans on how to plan, design, install and maintain.
Rain Garden Guide, Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (PDF)(5 pp, 806 K, About PDF)
An introductory guide on how to site, design, plant and maintain a rain garden.
Community Guide to Growing Greener, Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (PDF)(65 pp, 2.1 MB, about PDF)
Includes a listing of shrubs and trees suited for the area.
Bioretention Areas and Rain Gardens, Clean Water Toolkit, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection pavement
Fact sheet includes graphics of rain gardens and bioretention along with basic descriptions of the practices and information about design, benefits and maintenance.
EPA, YouthBuild, Greenway Conservancy Build a Rain Garden in Boston, April 2012
Earth Day 2012 collaboration in downtown Boston
How do I build a rain garden?, Soak Up the Rain New Hampshire, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Video documents the installation of a residential rain garden. Explains why we want rain gardens, factors to consider in determining site suitability and plant selection, and many other rain garden basics while demonstrating how to dig and plant a new rain garden.
Rain Garden Do-it-Yourself Fact Sheet, New Hampshire Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management, Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions For Your Home, Soak Up the Rain New Hampshire, March 2016 (PDF)(66 pp, 4 MB, about PDF)
Refer to page 35 for the Rain Garden fact sheet for information about rain garden design and siting considerations, installation and maintenance instructions.
A Shoreland Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management (PDF)(15 pp, 1.4 MB, About PDF)
The guide describes practices, including rain gardens, that shoreland homeowners can install to reduce or prevent polluted stormwater runoff from their roofs, patios, lawns and driveways.
Rain Gardens, Simple Steps at Home, Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions, University of Rhodes Island
Includes links to many fact sheets, including rain garden maintenance information for homeowners and professionals.
Bay-Friendly Living, Save the Bay (PDF)(19 pp, 15.1 MB, About PDF)
Tips on how to make your yard more attractive, cut back on chores and improve the quality of your local waters. Includes information and links on planting a rain garden, selecting native plants (and avoiding invasives), and lawn care.
Rhode Island Wild Plant Society
Information about native plants and native plant nurseries
Rhode Island Coastal Plant Guide
A reference for those involved in the design and management of coastal landscapes
Infiltration: Bioretention/Rain Gardens, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Some basics, along with photos and illustrations on design, sizing, placement, and installation.
Absorb the Storm - Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF)(24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF)
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including rain gardens, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.
The Vermont Rain Garden Manual: "Gardening to Absorb the Storm", University of Vermont (PDF)(20 pp, 2.3 MB, about PDF)
This manual explains how to choose a location for a rain garden, choose plants, install and maintain the garden. Includes plant lists.
Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (PDF)(54 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF)
Discusses the benefits of rain gardens with instructions on siting, designing, and installing rain gardens.
Rain garden at the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System facility in Leeds, MA (Photo Credit - U.S. Air Force)
Residential rain garden in Leominster, Massachusetts
Rain garden in Leominster, MA (Photo Credit - MA Watershed Coalition)
Rain garden at work in Leominster, MA (Photo Credit - MA Watershed Coalition)
School rain garden, Rochester, NH
Rain Garden Webinar
UConn presentation introduces rain gardens, including how to pick a location, select plants and install a rain garden