Ecology + Design

Design a Pollinator Rain Garden for Ecosystem Services [VIDEO]

Rain gardens are a valuable piece of green infrastructure that belong on every property! Rain gardens are designed and strategically sited in a landscape to disrupt and absorb stormwater sheet flow before it pollutes other bodies of water.

Case Study: Wainwright House, Rye, NY

In this video, Jay discuses a 2022 community service project we worked on with Rye High School students. With a team of volunteers from the Environmental Club, we removed a patch of lawn along the Wainwright House entrance road.

As Jay explains, removing this patch of lawn in a sea of turf and replacing it with virtually any type of garden, would be an improvement in stormwater absorption. Designing the garden as a native plant pollinator garden means these plants also have the capacity to absorb and filter stormwater.  Many native plants are naturally evolved to withstand our regional climate swings, from flooding to drought.

Video by Shoreline Video.

Native Plants Guide Rain Garden Design

Rain gardens are most often associated with landscape drainage and can be technical or non-technical in their construction. Aside from being and beautiful and functional landscape feature, rain gardens are also thriving pollinator habitats.

Since rain gardens call for facultative plants, those adapted to both drought and flooding, native plants are the most adept to those conditions in our area. This adaptation allows rain garden plants to absorb inundation during storm events and survive periods of drought.

So, using native plants for a rain garden will inherently create habitat for pollinators and wildlife. You should use a similar strategy when designing your rain garden as when designing a pollinator garden. That is, design for a sequence of flowers, seedheads, and berries so your garden is a food source for months. Try to include as much native plant biodiversity as possible, to attract as much insect and wildlife biodiversity as possible.

If you are designing a technical rain garden, that is excavated into a depression, you may choose to design planting zones based on depth and how much water will be held in that zone during a storm event. The center and lowest point of your rain garden will hold water the longest while the edges, sitting slightly higher, will dry out faster.

Features of a rain garden include native plants, well-draining soil and a location that makes sense for capturing sheet flow.

For more information on native plant selection, visit our previous blogs: Our Favorite Native Plants for NY, CT and NJ Part One and Two

Learn more about our stormwater management offerings — from rain gardens to bioswales to rainwater harvesting — in Westchester, Fairfield and Bergen counties.

Green Jay Landscape Design

Where Design Meets Ecology



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