Landscaping in Rain Gardens


A rain garden is a landscape feature for managing stormwater or runoff. Think of a rain garden as a puddle with plants. It is a shallow depression (only 6-8" deep) that collects stormwater for a short period of time (less than 4 days so no mosquito breeding). Pollutants are filtered out of the water by the plants, soil, and soil microorganisms. The clean water then infiltrates downward to recharge the groundwater aquifer, evaporates, evapotranspires through the plants back up into the atmosphere, or is absorbed and used by by the plants. A rain garden can be placed at any point along the runoff pathway in the landscape and can be in the sun or shade. When considering plants for a rain garden, remember that there are three planting zones - low (wettest), middle, and high (driest upper - edge area). Select plants based on the zone and the overall size of the garden. Trees and larger shrubs may not be appropriate for smaller gardens.


 Athyrium asplenioides - Lady Fern
Oconlea sensibilis -  Sensitive Fern
Osmunda spectabilis - Royal Fern
Polystichum acrostichoides - Christmas Fern
Woodwardia virginica -  Virginia Chain Fern

Grasses, sedges, & Rushes

Andropogon glomeratus -  Bushy Bluestem
Juncus effusus - Common Rush, Soft Rush
Panicum virgatum - Switchgrass
Schizachyrium scoparium - Little Bluestem

Other perennials

Asclepias spp. - Common & Swamp Milkweeds
Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed
Baptisia spp. -  Blue & Yellow Wild Indigos
Chelone glabra  - White Turtlehead
Coreopsis spp. - Longstalk, Golden & Threadleaf Coreopsis
Eutrochium fistulosum - Joe-pye Weed
Eupatorium perfoliatum - Common Boneset
Helianthus spp. – Narrow-leaved, Woodland Sunflowers
Heuchera americana - American Alumroot
Hibiscus moscheutos - Eastern rosemallow
Maianthemum racemosum - False Solomon’s Seal
Polygonatum biflorum - Solomon’s Seal
Rudbeckia spp. - Black-Eyed Susan, Cut-Leaf, & Three-Lobed Coneflowers
Sagittaria latifolia - Broadleaf Arrowhead
Saururus cernuus - Lizard’s Tail
Solidago spp. - Goldenrods
Sympohyotrichum novi-belgii - New York Aster


Aronia arbutifolia - Red Chokeberry
Baccharis halimifolia - High Tide Bush
Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush
Clethra alnifolia - Sweet Pepper-bush
Hamamelis virginiana - Witch Hazel
Hydrangea arborescens - Wild Hydrangea
Ilex glabra - Inkberry Holly
Ilex verticillata - Winterberry Holly
Itea virginica - Virginia Willow
Morella cerifera - Southern Wax Myrtle
Rhododendron viscosum - Swamp Azalea
Rosa Carolina - Carolina rose
Viburnum spp. - Mapleleaf, Arrowood, Possumhaw, & Blackhaw Virburnums


Amelanchier spp. -  Canada & Downy serviceberry
Asimina triloba - Paw Paw
Betula nigra  - River Birch
Cercis canadensis - Eastern Redbud
Magnolia virginiana - Sweetbay Magnolia