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350 South 5th Street
RM 203 City Hall
Minneapolis, MN  55415-1390

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Rain Gardens

What is a Rain Garden and How Do They Work?

A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground that allows stormwater to slowly infiltrate the soil.  Native plants, mulch and soil in the rain garden naturally remove pollutants contained in the stormwater.  Rain gardens receive stormwater from impervious (hard) surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks, driveways and patios, reducing the amount of stormwater (and pollutants they carry with) from entering our lakes, creeks and the Mississippi River. 

Build rain gardens near hard surfaces where rainwater can collect and drain into the rain garden.


Planting deep-rooted native plants create beautiful natural areas that attract birds and butterflies.

Polluted runoff is a big problem in urban areas like Minneapolis where it is hard for stormwater to soak into the hard, established ground. Rainwater flows faster over hard surfaces, picking up pollutants like sediment, litter, organic particles, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, gas and oil and other residue, before entering storm drains. This polluted water finds its way into our lakes, rivers, creeks and the Mississippi River.

Rain gardens help prevent excessive stormwater runoff. Strategically placed in shallow depressions in the ground, deep-rooted native plants act as a sponge, drawing water into the soil. Rain gardens reduce polluted runoff from entering our storm drains, as well as helping replenishing the groundwater supply and improving water quality.

Rain gardens can be as simple as a shallow depression or as complex as a large stormwater management system that uses a variety of pipes and grading to divert stormwater runoff to a rain garden. Native plants are ideal for rain gardens because they are hardy and deep-rooted. 

Rain Garden Resources

Metro Blooms - Promotes and educates gardeners, landscapers, community and businesses.  Metro Blooms also holds rain garden workshops in Minneapolis.

WaterShed Partners

Clean Water Minnesota - Minnesota Water - Let's Keep It Clean

Rain Garden FAQ (PDF)

Blue Thumb, Planting for Clean Water

Last updated Feb 21, 2018



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