Rain gardens are inexpensive and simple to build. They are an environmentally sound solution to urban stormwater runoff with the added benefit of beautifying city streets and neighbourhoods.
Rain gardens help to reduce the amount of runoff and pollution entering storm sewers, improving the quality of water entering local waterbodies. And they can help reduce standing water and the potential for home flooding.
A growing number of North American cities realize the benefits of this simple green infrastructure, and support the installation of rain gardens.
Calgary has created two large demonstration rain gardens in an area where traditional stormwater management technologies were not feasible. Thunder Bay, in partnership with EcoSuperior, created a Rain Garden Rebate program. Community members can receive up to $500 towards the creation of a rain garden on their property. The City is also providing free courses on proper construction and maintenance.
The positive impact of rain gardens increases with the installation of multiple gardens. If you live in Maplewood, Minnesota and there is road reconstruction on your street, you can get a free rain garden installed on your front lawn. The City will dig out the site, provide plants, and help you build your own garden. Since 1996, the City has installed over 700 boulevard rain gardens that are maintained by homeowners.
Rain gardens work best when they are strategically placed for collective impact.This is the philosophy behind 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound. So far 1,967 rain gardens have been installed — with a goal of creating 5,000 by the end of 2015, and 12,000 by the end of 2016.
Want to learn more about building rain gardens? Check out RAIN Garden Tour, a site maintained by Green Communities Canada, for resources and inspiring pictures.