Rain Garden

What Is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are an environmentally friendly way to enhance your home’s curb appeal.

A rain garden is a garden of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope. It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rainwater runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns.

Think of a rain garden as a sponge – an environmentally friendly sponge – that is designed to soak up much of this runoff before it can do damage.

A rain garden starts with a bowl-shaped bed of loose soil. The garden is planted with deep-rooted trees, bushes, flowers and other plants that help absorb the rainwater, which filters through layers of soil before entering the groundwater system.

With just a little effort, a rain garden can be a beautiful, low-maintenance addition to your lawn.


Rain Garden – Benefits for Homeowners

  • A rain garden gives runoff a beneficial, safe place to go, helping to keep it away from your home’s foundation.
  • Rain gardens reduce garden maintenance. A rain garden essentially “waters itself,” requiring little or no additional irrigation. In fact, rain gardens are more likely than other gardens to survive droughts. Periodic weeding, mulching, and pruning are all the maintenance they need. Because you don’t need to fertilize or spray them, they make your yard a healthier place for your children and pets as well.
  • Rain gardens enhance curb appeal. Because are more tolerant of the local climate, soil, and water conditions, native plants are recommended for rain gardens. These plants also provide interesting planting opportunities and are an attractive and creative alternative to traditional lawn landscapes.
  • Rain gardens increase garden enjoyment. Rain gardens are not only pleasing to look at it, but they are also an ideal habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
  • Rain gardens reduce mosquitoes. In a properly designed rain garden, water will soak into the ground within a day or two, long before mosquitoes have the opportunity to breed. They can also be designed to attract the kinds of insects that eliminate pest insects.

Benefits to the Environment

  • Rain gardens help improve the water quality of rivers and streams. The plantings in rain gardens help to filter contaminants from run-off, improving the quality of the water that recharges our groundwater. Your rain garden makes you part of a solution to stormwater pollution.
  • Rain gardens reduce the burden on public sewer systems. Rain gardens collect and use rainwater that would otherwise drain into the sewer system. By diverting this water, rain gardens decrease the flow to our wastewater treatment plants during storms, when flow typically peaks.
  • Rain gardens reduce sewer overflows and flooding. If adopted on a community or neighborhood scale, rain gardens can reduce combined sewer overflows and localized flooding.
  • Rain gardens protect rivers and streams. Polluted stormwater that enters rivers and creeks untreated can hurt both water quality and the wildlife that inhabit them. Excessive runoff can also erode banks and increase downstream flooding as well. Rain gardens can help minimize both.
We recommend searching the web to find more information and resources on this topic. Links to the above websites are for informational purposes and not endorsements of retailers/suppliers or their products by the City of Columbia, Missouri.


Show me stormwater management

Boone County, City of Columbia and the University of Missouri coordinate stormwater activities. The three institutions are joint holders of a Phase II Stormwater Permit issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).