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Engineering Division

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Rain Gardens

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Rainwater garden

Rain gardens are shallow depressions that temporarily hold water. This allows water time to soak into the ground. Letting water soak into the ground helps reduce runoff, and keeps water clean!

How does a rain garden keep water clean? In most urban areas stormwater flows quickly over impervious surfaces like rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, and roads. As it flows, water picks up dirt, leaves, trash, fertilizer, and other pollutants. All of this can be washed into storm drains and then directly into ponds, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Catching water in a rain garden not only prevents it from becoming dirty but also cleans the water by letting it soak into the ground.

On its own, a rain garden may seem small. But, added together, they can have a tremendous effect on water quality. Plus, the native plants growing in a rain garden add habitat for insects and animals, such as butterflies and birds.

Coming in many different sizes and designs it may seem difficult to build a rain garden. Do not worry! From cost-sharing grants to simplistic easy designs, help is available. See the information below to help you get started on your path to having a rain garden of your own!

How To

There are many ways to build a rain garden correctly and about as many ways to do it wrong. For more complex designs it may be worth hiring a contractor. However, smaller, more simple designs can be done by any amateur gardener. A rain garden can be as basic as just catching water from your roof at the end of a downspout. A small rain garden like this requires no more than a shovel, mulch and a little bit of free time!

 

Infographic on rain gardens

More Information

  • Metro Blooms, a local non-profit, offers good resources on rain gardens and other beneficial ways to improve your yard. Check out the video int the following link about rain garden design and maintenance.
  • The University of Minnesota Extension provides easy to follow direction and consideration for a do-it-yourself rain garden project.
  • Blue Thumb is a private/public partnership that hosts a lot of information about rain gardens including an informational video and plant guides
  • The City of Bloomington has put together this simple guide to help you through the required, yet simple, maintenance a rain garden requires.
  • The City of Bloomington has also put together this fact sheet about rain gardens. It covers benefits, designs, permitting, and other common questions.

Cost Share Grant Information

Cost share programs for rain gardens are available for some Bloomington residents, depending on which watershed district you live in. Find out which watershed district you are in.

Use the drop-down tabs below to see specific information on each grant program. There is also grant money available from Hennepin County that is applicable for all Bloomington residents.