Department of Energy & Environment

DC Agency Top Menu

Heat Emergency - A heat emergency is in effect for Washington, DC. Residents are urged to take precautions against the heat.

Find cooling centers, spray parks and more information about heat emergencies.


-A +A
Bookmark and Share

RiverSmart Homes: Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens Defined

A rain garden is a small garden landscaped to collect, store, and absorb stormwater runoff in its loose underlying soil. Rain gardens are strategically placed to intercept stormwater runoff and hold it until it can be fully absorbed into the ground.

Typical rain gardens are populated with native plants. indigenous species that were here prior to the settlement of Europeans. Ornamental horticultural plants that are non-invasive can also be excellent choices.

Benefits of Rain Gardens to the Homeowner

Rain gardens require little maintenance once the plants are well established, and they are a beautiful addition to any property. Furthermore, rain gardens:

  • Minimize the need for mowing, pesticides, pruning, irrigation and fertilization
  • Require minimal watering
  • Cost less to maintain than conventional landscapes stabilize soils and prevent erosion
  • Can be creative and fun, designed with plants of your particular choice.

Benefits of Rain Gardens to the District

The District is promoting the planting of rain gardens because they manage stormwater on-site by intercepting and filtering pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides, and oil and other automobile fluids washed off of impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, turf, roads and parking lots. In addition, rain gardens:

  • Increase the amount of water filtering into the ground, which recharges local and regional aquifers
  • Help to protect communities from flooding and drainage problems; and
  • Provide valuable habitat for local birds, butterflies and many beneficial insects.

How to Have a Rain Garden

Rain gardens are each one-of-a-kind. They vary widely in size, and can fit into many odd shapes and spaces.They can be designed to individual site characteristics, factoring in topography, soils, drainage patterns and sun exposure.

Want to have a rain garden in your yard? RiverSmart Homes can help.

DOEE's RiverSmart Homes District-wide program offers incentives to homeowners interested in reducing stormwater pollution from their properties. Rain gardens are one of the environmentally friendly landscaping practices available through this program.

Contact TTY: