Rain Gardens

Why Install a Rain Garden?

Rain Gardens establish a desired sense of place by displaying native plants and encouraging environmental stewardship, involvement, promotion, and community pride.

They are also a great way for individuals in the community to provide a natural habitat for wildlife and native plant varieties while improving the on-site water quality and decreasing stormwater runoff and erosion for a property.  A rain garden can increase the real estate value of a property by including an aesthetically pleasing landscape that is both beautiful and a working BMP.

Find more information about the importance of stormwater management and other ways to manage your stormwater.

What is the Basic Design of a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is usually oblong in shape. It is about 6 to 8 inches deep depending on the soil type. There are berms on the sides of the garden to ensure that water does not bypass the garden. Native plants are planted throughout the garden. 

The basic design and layout of a rain garden is dependent on the tastes of the property owner the desired location of the rain garden, and the needs of the native plants being installed. 

Generally they can be designed to fit into odds shapes and spaces.

The placement of the native plants is mainly dependent on the plant moisture and sun preference. Once separated into moisture sections the plants can be arranged any way that is desired.

Some suggestions on the design and information about the building of a rain garden can be found here.

What Type of Plants Are Used in a Rain Garden?

Native perennials are used in rain gardens. They are used because they can withstand the local weather better than non-native plant species. Their roots reach deep into the soil which provide anchors for the plants. View native Iowa plants.

The selection and placement of plants for the rain garden should be considered when designing a rain garden. Collecting information on moisture preference, sun preference, height, and bloom month allow for the best possible outcome for a rain garden longevity and appearance. 

Partnering with the City of Dubuque

The City of Dubuque has funds available to assist and collaborate with residents in building a rain garden.  These funds can be used for materials, but are limited and is on a first come, first serve basis. Contact Dean Mattoon in the engineering department at 563-589-4202 or email for more information and details of the process.

Additional Information

View a list of plant suggestions. These are suggestions only, and many more plants are suitable for rain gardens. Contact a local landscaping professional to find out what types of plants are best for you. 

Information and tips on building a rain garden (City of Madison, WI)

Rain Gardens Around Dubuque

  • Hoover School
  • Washington Middle School
  • Swiss Valley Nature Center

How to build a rain garden