Maintaining A Rain Garden

How Do I Maintain My Rain Garden?

A properly designed rain garden should not be much different than maintaining any other garden on your property-weekly watering and weeding when the garden is first planted, followed by annual mulching, pruning, and replacing any dead or diseased plants. Rain gardens should also be inspected regularly for potential erosion problems and sediment accumulation.

For more detailed maintenance information, see our factsheets: Rain Garden Maintenance for Homeowners and Rain Garden Maintenance for Professionals.


Am I Required To Have A Rain Garden On My Property?

Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions is encouraging property owners to install rain gardens as a voluntary practice to help reduce stormwater pollution. However, new development or redevelopment projects may require a rain garden or some other type of Low Impact Development (LID) technique to manage stormwater. Rhode Island stormwater regulations enacted in 2011 require individual single-family residential development or redevelopment projects to treat the water quality volume, or one inch of stormwater runoff, from any new rooftop impervious surfaces of 600 square feet or greater in size and all new driveways and parking areas. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (RI CRMC) have produced the guidance document Rhode Island Stormwater Management Guidance for Individual Single-Family Residential Lot Development to assist with designing, installing and maintaining stormwater management practices that meet the requirements for new or enlarged single-family dwellings, driveways and parking areas, including rain gardens.

For more information about managing stormwater at new development projects, visit the RIDEM Office of Water Resources.


Rain Gardens Are Not Bioretention

You may be familiar with the term bioretention as a stormwater management technique. Although rain gardens and bioretention basins function similarly, they are very different! Bioretention basins require detailed engineering, and are usually much larger with sophisticated conveyance devices (e.g., underdrains, overflow structures, etc.) and a prescribed soil mix to promote filtration by stormwater. Bioretention is often used when managing stormwater at new development projects or retrofits. Rain gardens are small in scale – ideal to manage runoff from smaller drainage areas such as residential rooftops and driveways – and utilize native, or modestly amended soils. Proper rain garden design may be achieved through appropriate site selection and simple sizing techniques.

For more information, please visit Small-Scale Bioretention Installation Training, a 2012 workshop sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, URI Cooperative Extension, City of Providence, and Groundwork Providence.

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