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City of Port Washington, Wisconsin

City of Port Washington - Tips For Going Green

Home Rain Gardens

Do you have an area of your yard where water pools, or where it flows and erodes your lawn? Then maybe you should consider putting in a rain garden! First, what is a rain garden you might ask? It is a depressed area landscaped with native vegetation that soaks up rain water runoff.

Historically rain gardens were designed for residential use and were developed in 1990 in Prince George's County, Maryland, when Dick Brinker, a developer building a new housing subdivision, had the idea to replace the traditional best management practices (BMP) pond with a bioretention area. The result was the extensive use of rain gardens in Somerset, a residential subdivision which has a 300-400 square foot rain garden on each house's property. This system proved to be highly cost-effective. Flow monitoring done in later years showed that the rain gardens have resulted in a 75-80% reduction in storm water runoff during a regular rainfall event. The first rain gardens were created to mimic the natural water retention areas that occurred naturally before development of an area.

Why create a rain garden you might ask? As cities and suburbs grow and replace vegetation, rain water runoff from impervious surfaces, roofs, streets, driveways and parking lots increases. This leads to flooding and pollutants from these impervious surfaces and even lawns making it into rivers and lakes which can lead to costly municipal improvements in storm water treatment structures. A rain garden will slow down and reduce the volume of rainfall, filter pollutants, provide food and habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife and help conserve and protect water quality for our community's economy, recreation and tourism.

What goes into to creation of a rain garden? Whether the garden is large or small the same basic principles apply. Generally a rain garden is placed at least 10 feet away from a home or in a naturally occurring low spot where water pools or can be directed to, with full or partial sun. The boundaries are laid out like any garden or landscaped area, the grass is removed and a few inches of soil is removed. Native plants are planted. They are the best choice for rain gardens because they withstand difficult growing conditions and require little care. The rain garden can be mulched to keep moisture in and weeds out while the native plants become established over the next couple of weeks.

Currently the City of Port Washington has a few rain gardens in various states of completion. A finished rain garden is located downtown by Dockside Deli as well as a few more by the City's skate park.

Would you like more detailed instructions on making a rain garden? Check out these links:


City of Port Washington Going Green Links At A Glance

How To Create A Rain Garden

6 Steps To Make A Rain Garden

What Is/Why A Rain Garden?

City of Port Washington, Wisconsin Official You Tube Channel