A garden with green plants that clean rainwater flowing from the driveway

Rain Gardens

What you need to know

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How it Works Best Location Plants Benefits

How it Works

A rain garden, or bioretention area, is a planted area that collects and cleans stormwater runoff coming from paved surfaces, like roads, sidewalks, roofs, driveways and patios. The plants and soil in the garden slow down the water and filter out pollution before it reaches a storm drain or creek. 

Rain gardens stay dry when it isn't raining. You'll typically see these in someone's yard. 

Bioretention Area

A bioretention area is a more engineered feature. You’ll see these on road and commercial projects. These features can be used to meet regulatory requirements.

Best Location

  • Areas that collect a lot of rainwater 
  • Where water naturally flows to a stream or the stormwater system
  • In soils that quickly absorb water
  • Placed at least 10 feet away from a building

What to avoid: 

  • Putting the garden near underground utilities
  • Using the garden to solve flooding issues

How rain gardens and bioretention areas are built varies by location and need. 


There are several plants native to North Carolina that work well in rain gardens. 

View the list


  • Beautiful landscaping 
  • Protects the environment
  • A good community space or outdoor amenity



Justin Harcum
Project Manager

Engineering Services
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Apply for Raleigh Rainwater RewardsGreen Stormwater Infrastructure