Garden News Blog

Rain Gardens Capture Storm Water

Sweet bay and black gum trees, grasses, and wildflowers were recently planted in the three sunken rain gardens in the Visitor's Center's surrounding plaza. These plants and gardens are part of an innovative storm-water management system that also includes the building’s living roof, its landscaped berms, and the new and existing tree beds along Washington Avenue. The system is expected to capture all of the rain that falls on the space — hundreds of thousands of gallons each year.

Systems like these are a relatively new green building technique, and this one is particularly ambitious. It’s probably the first in New York City designed to fully collect all the precipitation that hits it. Rain falling on the building and plaza will soak into the roof or berms or run into the rain gardens, where most will be taken up by the soil and plants.

Any overflow will be directed into the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Not only will this conserve water for irrigation, it will prevent it from flowing into New York City’s overtaxed sewer system, which will help keep local waterways clean. It will also serve as a model for similar systems. Be sure to see for yourself.

Sarah Schmidt edits BBG's editorial content, including the blog, how-to articles, and the Guides for a Greener Planet handbook series.

Submit a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this article. Comments are moderated and will be posted after BBG staff review. Your email address is required; it will not be displayed, but may be needed to confirm your comments.

Image, top of page:
Rain Garden
One of BBG's Visitor Center rain gardens after the rain. Photo by Blanca Begert.
Rain garden construction
A rain garden on the north side of the Visitor Center is planted with different cultivars of black gum trees. Photo by Sarah Schmidt.