Rain Gardens

Recently, South Carolina has received a lot of excess rain and an increased potential for stormwater runoff. A rain garden is a landscape feature that can help mediate and reduce stormwater runoff. This runoff comes from impervious areas such as rooftops, driveways, or compacted lawn areas. Rain gardens are landscape depressions that receive stormwater runoff and allow the water to infiltrate the soil slowly and eventually reaching the groundwater table. Rain gardens are a popular and attractive way for homeowners to manage erosion and moisture control issues, beautify the home landscape, create wildlife habitat and protect clean water downstream.
Rain gardens are designed to mimic the natural water cycle. These gardens not only reduce the quantity of storm water and potential flooding, but they preserve downstream water quality. Rain gardens trap sediment and associated contaminants, promote biological processes that remove pathogens, and store or remove excess nutrients.
A rain garden can add both beauty and functionality to any landscape. Multiple plant species can be used in a rain garden, including shrubs, perennials (both sun and shade-loving), and grasses. Recommended grasses include: Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, River Oats, Switchgrass, and Muhly Sweetgrass. Recommended perennials include: Columbine, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed, Water Cana, Joe Pye Weed, Swamp Sunflower, Marsh Mallow Hibiscus, Blazing Star, Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia, Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Cutleaf Coneflower, Goldenrod, Stoke’s Aster, and Ironweed. Recommended ferns include: Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Sensitive Fern, Royal Fern, and Christmas Fern. Recommended shrubs include: American Beautyberry, Buttonbush, Virginia Sweetspire, Swamp Azalea, Dwarf Palmetto, Saw Palmetto, and Spicebush.
The Master Rain Gardener certification program focuses on rain garden and rainwater harvesting system design and installation. This program is intended for home gardeners, Master Gardeners, and Master Naturalists, as well as contractors, landscape designers, landscape installers, and other professionals who installs rain gardens. For more information on the Master Rain Gardener program, visit clemson.edu.extension/raingarden/mrg/index.html or email Kim Morganello at kcounts@clemson.edu.
For more information on rain gardens, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at hgic.clemson.edu. Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7pm on SCETV or mig.org. Email Outen at callenb@clemson.edu.
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Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.