What is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is a garden designed to capture water and allow it to infiltrate into the ground. Some rain gardens are constructed to infiltrate water runoff from roof downspouts—these enable you to disconnect your roof downspout from the city storm water system and utilize that water in your own yard. Others help to deal with pooling in yards by redirecting the water into an area of good infiltration. Rain gardens are not meant to contain standing water—they should drain within 24-48 hours of a large rainfall. In fact, your rain garden may be rather dry for large portions of time depending on the amount of rainfall in your area, so it is important to select plants that can tolerate a range of conditions.
How are Rain Gardens Created?
The general process for rain garden construction involves selecting a site, creating a lowered area to capture water, and planting that area with rain-garden friendly native plants. We have put together two suggested plant packs—one for a part-shade rain garden and one for a full-sun rain garden. These packs will give you a starting point for your garden. Feel free to get creative and check out some other rain garden species on our website here to add to your design! Below are some great additional resources that discuss things such as sizing, design, and types of rain gardens, as well as some organizations and businesses local to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that can assist you in the design and implementation process. For customers looking for organizations and businesses in other regions of Ontario, we suggest contacting your local Conservation Authority.
Toronto Conservation Authority Rain Garden Guide
Provides in-depth information about all aspects of rain gardens—including a list of example gardens in the Greater Toronto Area as well as a guide to rain-garden-friendly plants.
Calvin University Rainscaping Guide
Provides simple, easy-to-follow instructions for rain garden site selection, design, construction and maintenance. Plaster Creek Stewards is an initiative run out of Calvin College (Grand Rapids MI) that works to restore the Plaster Creek Watershed through a variety of initiatives, including rain garden installation.
Iowa Rain Garden Design Manual
A more technical guide created by a number of partners in the state of Iowa that provides in-depth background information, calculations, etc.
Rain Garden Alliance Calculator
For downspout-disconnect rain gardens. Provides guidelines for calculating the approximate size your rain garden should be based on: number of downspouts, roof surface area, soil quality, and slope.
Information about Low Impact Development
City of Hamilton Low Impact Development
Local Organizations and Businesses
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Hamilton Conservation Authority
Avesi Stormwater and Landscaping Solutions
Plant lists for Rain Gardens
City of Guelph Rain Garden Plant List