Stormwater Straight Talk

  • Published
  • Robins Public Affairs

During a rain event, stormwater flows out of downspouts, runs across lawns and streets, through storm drains, and ultimately into lakes, rivers, wetlands, and streams. Stormwater may collect pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers, and vehicle oils before reaching one of these receiving waters. Rain gardens are versatile features that can aid in the reduction of stormwater pollution, and they be installed in almost any unpaved space.


Rain gardens are shallow, vegetated basins that collect rain water from rooftops, sidewalks, and streets.  The porous soil of a rain garden acts as a filter and allows the stormwater to soak slowly into the ground.  Vegetation, such as grasses and flowing perennials, can aid in the reduction of pollutants as the plants can use some of the nutrients found in the stormwater runoff.


Generally, a rain garden is constructed with three zones.  Located at the center of the garden, Zone 1 contains plants that like standing water for long periods of time.  Zone 2, which is located around Zone 1, contains plants that can tolerate occasional standing water.  Located along the outer portion of the garden, Zone 3 is rarely wet for any length of time, and the area should be planted with species that prefer drier soil.


Below are some considerations for constructing a rain garden:

  • Make sure that the rain garden is located at least 10 feet from houses or other buildings to protect the foundation and at least 50 feet from a septic system.

  • Avoid areas with trees to avoid damage to tree roots.

  • Place your rain garden in a flat portion of the yard to reduce erosion and allow water enough time to soak into the ground.

  • Follow proper procedures (e.g., calling 811) to locate underground utilities prior to digging.


Rain gardens are easy to maintain and generally have the same amount of maintenance as other types of gardens.  A rain garden can be a beautiful way to reduce stormwater runoff and help filter pollutants from runoff. 


For more information, call 468-9645.