A rain garden is any landscaping that filters and absorbs stormwater (rainwater) runoff from a nearby impervious surface such as a roof, driveway, parking lot or street. Water that would otherwise go down a storm drain and be piped directly into the nearest convenient creek is instead directed into the garden.
Rain gardens prevent toxic pollutants such as tire dust, brake dust and cigarette butts from entering our creeks and oceans. They also replenish the groundwater (natural underground water supply) that seeps gradually into creeks and keeps them flowing clean and cool even during summer dry spells. Rain gardens mimic nature’s own “timed-release” system for maintaining healthy water levels for salmon (not too much, not too little).
A rain garden can be a simple lawn or cluster of rocks receiving runoff from a roof downspout that has been disconnected from house perimeter drains. It can be an ecosystem full of varied plants, insects and other animals. It can be a vast pond, hosting ducks and serving as the focal point of a neighbourhood. Our imaginations are the only limit.
Click on the sidebar links for more information about rain gardens, including descriptions of several rain garden projects coordinated by Cougar Creek Streamkeepers.