Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a landscaped feature designed to collect stormwater (rain and snow melt) that runs off roofs, driveways, sidewalks, etc. This shallow depression has loose, deep soil that absorbs and naturally filters the runoff, reducing the amount of stormwater making it to the sewer system.

Rain gardens are one example of Low Impact Development (LID) features that can help reduce the risk of basement flooding. One of the recommendations of the Sewer Master Plan is the creation of Low Impact Development features.

Bowl shaped rain garden

Why Build a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are not only beautiful and creative, they are also functional:

  • Limit the amount of water that enters the local storm sewer.
  • Reduce the potential for flooding and drainage problems.
  • Reduce the quantity of pollutants entering the storm sewer system and ultimately the Detroit River.
  • Restore and recharge the groundwater system.
  • Low maintenance: They are planted with beautiful, hardy plants that require little to no water.
  • Planting of native species in rain gardens will attract birds, butterflies and other beneficial insects, such as dragonflies (dragonflies eat mosquitos).

Building a Rain Garden

Rain garden diagram thumbnail

Rain gardens require four things:

  • A source of stormwater runoff, such as a downspout
  • An absorbent soil mixture
  • Full or partial sun
  • Native plants that are both water-tolerant and drought-tolerant

Properly constructed rain gardens are designed to allow overflow from large rain events. A properly designed rain garden should absorb rain within 48 hours.

For more detailed instructions, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has created a How to Create at Rain Garden Guide for homeowners.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will it be expensive or difficult to install and maintain a rain garden?

  • Once a shallow depression is dug for the rain garden, it won't be any more expensive than planting other landscaped areas in your yard. Most of the recommended plants can be purchased locally. Native plants are recommended, as once they are established they will require less water and no fertilization.

Will a rain garden create a pond for mosquitos?

  • No, a rain garden is not a pond. When properly constructed, the water will drain within 48 hours (but usually faster). Mosquitos won't find rain gardens to be good breeding areas because they need much more time to lay and hatch eggs.

For more information on environmental initiatives:

Phone: For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, call 519-255-6100 ext. 6127.
E-mail: emp@citywindsor.ca