Rain Gardens

You have questions about rain gardens — we get that!

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is meant to mimic ntohraingarden_cartoonature by allowing rain water to soak into the ground.  It’s a landscape feature that’s built to take water from your downspout, driveway, or lawn.  It uses special hardy plants that are happy in wet or dry conditions, and can provide great habitat for wildlife and pollinators.

Why do we need rain gardens?

Rain gardens can be a Do-It-Yourself option for homeowners dealing with drainage problems on their properties.  Damp basements, slippery driveways and sidewalks during the winter, and wet spots in the yard after rain storms can often be eliminated with the proper design and  installation of a rain garden.

Beyond the individual yard, rain gardens filter pollutants out of rain water runoff, slow and cool rain water after big storms, and provide important wildlife and pollinator habitat.  Natural landscapes like forests and prairies enable almost all of the rain water to soak into the ground, recharging groundwater (our source of drinking water). Concrete soaks in no rain water. Water that runs off of our roofs and driveways gets polluted by trash, chemicals, dirt, and even heat. This runoff travels directly to streams and rivers through the storm sewer system, which does not filter or treat the water whatsoever.

How are rain gardens created?

Create a shallow depression where rain water will collect and fill it with plants local to Michigan.  The rain garden guide below will walk you through designing and planting your garden.  Want extra help designing and planting a rain garden?  Check out our newest program at Kalamazoo River Watershed Council — our Master *Rain* Gardener class.

Rain Garden Guide & Sample Designs for Kalamazoo Co (PDF) from the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner

Michigan Native Plant Online Search (external link) from the Native Plant Nursery, LLC

Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones chapter (external link) members host a bi-annual native plant exchange

Rain Garden Installation video (external link)

Hidden Savanna Native Plant Nursery (external link) sells Michigan native species for rain gardens and more

Rain Garden Sizing Calculator (external link) from the Three Rivers Rain Garden Alliance

Want more help?

Check out our in-depth and in-person training course that will lead you through all of phases of rain gardening — from design and sizing to planting and maintaining.  Read more about the Master *Rain* Gardener class.

Get involved with the KWRC outside your yard by attending one of our many events!