Photo of rain garden with flowering plants

Rain Gardens: An Infographic

California is running out of water. According to CalMatters’ Rachel Becker 90% of the state is gripped by extreme or exceptional drought. Californians reduced their home water use by just 1.8% in July compared to the same time last year — despite a plea from Gov. Gavin Newsom to cut consumption by 15%. With nearly all of the state in severe drought, it is critical to ensure conservation of precious water sources. Enter the rainwater infiltration garden, or rain garden–a bowl-shaped depressed landscape area that that collects and stores runoff from rooftops, yards, sidewalks, and streets.

Rain gardens collect precious rain water and also help to beautify a yard. By providing a simple form of rainwater harvesting, rain gardens enable cities and homeowners alike to save valuable rain water. Rain gardens can be particularly useful in water-stressed California where rainfall usually does not meet water demand and there is an increasing reliance on imported. As water prices climb and the frequency and severity of droughts increase, homeowners and municipalities across the state are looking toward simple and inexpensive ways to conserve critical water. 

Rain gardens can be planted with flowering perennials and grasses, a cost-effective way to beautify your property and reduce runoff. Rain gardens also help remove pollutants found in runoff and can even provide habitat and food for wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and other pollinators. Rain gardens are an example of green infrastructure, stormwater management measures that mimic the natural water cycle in the built environment. Implementing green infrastructure can improve air and water quality, provide habitats for local wildlife, and strengthen community resilience.

Check out this infographic to learn more about stormwater runoff and how to make your own rain garden! 

Infographic: schematic showing rain with stormwater collection and plant growth
Infographic showing how to make a rain garden, from testing soil to finding a site.
Design by Eunice Chung

Here are some additional resources on rain gardens:

Rain Gardens, Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

Bioretention Illustrated: A Visual Guide for Constructing, Inspecting, Maintaining and Verifying the Bioretention Practice, 2013, Chesapeake Stormwater Network (PDF)

Water-Smart Landscape Design Tips, Water Sense

What To Plant Database for native plants in your area

Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices, Cornell University, 2014 (PDF)

Rain Garden Outreach and Communication How-to-Guide, Resource Media (PDF)

Photo credit: James Steakley


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