Case Study:

Rain Gardens: Saving Streams One Yard at a Time

Do you like gardening?  Do you love seeing birds and butterflies at flight in your yard?  Creating a rain garden offers therapuetic exercise, attracts wildlife, and helps keep stormwater runoff from overburdening sewer systems--or entering local streams. 

A rain garden is an attractive landscaped area planted with wildflowers and other vegetation (preferably native to the area) that has been designed to collect water that runs off a roof, driveway, or other parts of a property, including area lawns. Rain gardens are intended to fill with water during storms and slowly filter the water into the ground. Rain gardens are an economical way of dealing with rainfall the way nature intended by infiltrating, slowing down, and reducing the volume of runoff that enters a stormwater system. During heavy rains, they can prevent storm sewer overflows that can end up in our rivers and streams.

Rain gardens not only keep rainwater on your property and out of the sewer system, they offer an attractive alternative to manicured lawns, adding beauty and value to a neighborhood. And, they provide important habitat for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

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  Rain Gardens for the Bay logo  Audubon Bird Town logo    Rain Gardens Manual thumbnail     Bayscapes Homeowners Guide

While this video features rain gardens in Ambler, an upstream suburb of Philadelphia that lies within the Wissahickon watershed, the fact is that rain gardens are becoming one of the most popular stormwater management solutions all across the country. Ambler is a case in point: the Ambler Environmental Advisory Council is working to mobilize homeowners to install 100 gardens within the borough over the next several years -- and to motivate their upstream neighbors to do the same in their yards. Visit their website to learn more.

U.S. EPA Region 3 has created a campaign for greening our neighborhoods and protecting our streams and bays by creating thousands of rain gardens in local watersheds. Learn more about Rain Gardens for the Bays.

Pennsylvania Audubon has all kinds of resources to help homeowners create bird habitat in their backyards -- and recgnizes that rain gardens provide a double bang for their buck. Check out their Bird Habitat Recognition Program for Homeowners and their Bird Town program for muncipalities.

A useful publication that's especiually applicable to Pennsylvania is the Bayscapes Homeowners' Guide to Designing your Property, published by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. You can get more information from the ACB's website or download the pdf here>>

Another great publication that's available for download is Rain Gardens: A how-to manual for homeowners, published by the Wisconsin Departmernt of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension Environmental Resources Center. You can download the pdf version here >> 

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary recently produced a wonderful brochure giving step-by-step instructions on how to build a rain garden. Rain Gardens: Gardens with Benefits also highlights the benefits of rain gardens, and discusses other actions you can take to protect our local waterways. You can download the pdf version here >>

The Producers are grateful to the homeowners whose rain gardens are featured in this video, along with the many individuals who shared their knowledge, helped with coordination, and provided hands-on assistance during planning and production. We'd also like to acknowledge those who provided additional images, including:
DNREC (Rehoboth Beach City Hall). See Project details >>
Pashek Associates (Seven Springs). See Project details >>
Jen Novak (Shaler Municipal Rain Garden). See Project details >>
Shirley Stark (Gardening for a Healthier Bay). See Project details >>

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This excerpt discusses the value of rain gardens and how they add beauty to yards by replacing impervious lawns

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This excerpt looks at the homeowner's role in protecting their creek.

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This excerpt explores how rain gardens attract butterflies and birds.

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