Rain Gardens

What Are Rain Gardens?

Rain gardens are attractive landscape features that reduce storm runoff, filter out pollutants, and recharge groundwater. Heavy rain and excess garden water collect in the basin-like feature and slowly absorb into the ground instead of running off into nearby storm drains or streams, carrying away topsoil and nutrients and polluting the water.

Constructing a Rain Garden

An effective rain garden is built with a shallow swale within a low-lying area. This saucer-shaped depression should be between 12 and 18 inches deep and is planted with water-tolerant plants. When properly planted and maintained, a rain garden will:

  • Improve groundwater recharge
  • Control stormwater runoff

The plants and soil within a rain garden will absorb:

  • Excess fertilizer and pesticides
  • Excess oils (hydrocarbons)
  • Bacteria

Turf Love’s Garden Love Rebate Program

The Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) can provide cost-share assistance to property owners in James City County to help offset the cost of constructing a rain garden. For more information about the program, please visit the Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) VCAP website .