Rain Barrels and Gardens
Rain Barrels and Gardens
Rain barrels are easy to install, rain gardens can improve the aesthetics of your property, and both may qualify you for a credit on your Stormwater Utility Fee. To learn about what else you can do to minimize stormwater pollution at home, visit Protecting Our Waterways.
Rain barrels are containers that collect rain water and are typically located under gutter downspouts. They are available at many home improvement and hardware stores or can be constructed at home. DWR even offers rain barrel workshops to help get you started!
Rain barrels allow you to capture water during rainfall so it can be used to irrigate plants during dry periods. By watering with rainwater instead of highly-treated drinking water, you can save money and help conserve our water resources. Rain barrels also reduce the impacts of excessive stormwater runoff on our rivers and streams by decreasing the volume of water flowing into storm drains.
Rain gardens are landscaped areas designed to collect and utilize rainwater. They are a great way to reclaim rainwater from a gutter downspout or driveway, which can reduce stormwater runoff and prevent damage to stream banks. They also allow more water from rain to soak into the ground to water plants—about 30 percent more water from rain soaks into the ground in a rain garden than in an equivalent area of lawn!
How do rain gardens work?
Every time it rains, pollutants like fertilizers, pesticides, automotive chemicals, and debris wash across lawns, driveways, and down our streets, eventually flowing into a storm drain or drainage ditch and then into a nearby river, lake or stream. A rain garden collects some of this stormwater and filters it through soils and plants. The plants, mulch, and soil in a rain garden combine natural physical, biological, and chemical processes to remove those pollutants from runoff.
Where is the best location for a rain garden on my property?
Rain gardens are best located in low areas of the yard where runoff tends to flow. While they should not be built next to a building's foundation, rain gardens located near an impervious surface such as a driveway, patio, or sidewalk can easily capture the runoff from that area.
What plants should I use?
Plants used in a rain garden should be able to handle getting saturated periodically and then also handle periods of dryness. Many of our native plants are well suited for the rain garden. See this list of trees, shrubs, and other plants for ideas.
How do I start my own rain garden?
Small rain gardens can be easy to install but require a good bit of shovel work. Larger rain gardens may require more planning and some rental machinery, but they can still be a fun do-it-yourself project. Whether you do it alone or make it a neighborhood project, here are step-by-step instructions for building a rain garden on your property.