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There are numerous different ways of designing a stormwater management plan, and one of these may include the use of plants to improve stormwater treatment.

Plants and trees not only provide visual appeal and generate fresh oxygen; they also play an important role in the treatment of stormwater. Plants and trees are living organisms and they can help to mitigate pollution loads that discharge from a stormwater drainage area.

Plants help to capture some of the pollutants from stormwater and break them down through the activity of microorganisms. The larger a plant or tree grows, the greater its potential positive impact in stormwater management.

Plant roots also help to manage the rate of stormwater flow, as they take up some of the excess water produced.

One way residents and individuals can take advantage of using trees and plants to help in overall local stormwater management is to install a rain garden at their home. A rain garden is a garden that contains locally native trees, plants and grasses that will best survive in soil if it has been soaked with stormwater. They don’t have standing water, however; they instead collect stormwater, slow its discharge, and maximize its rate of infiltration into the ground.

The benefit of having a rain garden, along with its visual appeal, is that it is an effective component of a stormwater management plan. A rain garden, whether at home or in a business or public area, will slow the fast rate at which stormwater flows and ultimately protect natural waterways from many of the pollutants that would otherwise be washed into them from paved areas and roofs.

Why install a rain garden?

  • Attractive and low maintenance landscaping
  • Improve local water quality
  • Increase habitat for birds, butterflies, and beneficial insect life
  • Reduce likelihood of flooding in basements
  • Eliminate wet or puddling areas in the yard

Including plants in a developed area is a major principle in an optimal low impact development strategy. Rain gardens don’t need to be large or elaborate to offer effective stormwater management. Just use native plants that are climate compatible in the area that has been developed.