Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a shallow, gently-sloped channel filled with topsoil and plants. Rain gardens manage rainwater runoff in our developed neighbourhoods while providing many co-benefits:

  • Rain gardens allow 30% more water to infiltrate into groundwater than a regular lawn. This replenishes our drinking water and local streams while decreasing pressure on our stormwater infrastructure.
  • Rainwater treated by topsoil is cool, clean, and has nutrients that benefit the wildlife in our local creeks and streams.
  • Studies show that rain gardens absorb CO2, making them low-carbon infrastructure.
  • Rain gardens do all this while adding to the beauty of our neighbourhoods.

Rain Gardens - How do they work?

How do they work?

Runoff from small, frequent rain showers is stored in the topsoil. Plants and soil help absorb pollutants, preventing them from washing into watersheds. When the topsoil is full, water flows into the pipe and enters the municipal drainage system.

Who takes care of the Rain Garden?

Land developers design, build, and maintain rain gardens until the plants are established. Once established, it becomes the responsibility of the adjacent property owner(s). Per Township Bylaw No. 4758 property owners are responsible for the maintenance of their road frontage, including rain gardens.

How do I take care of my Rain Garden?

Rain gardens require some maintenance to remain attractive and effective. Here are three quick and easy ways you can maintain your rain garden:

  • Clear sediment and debris (litter) from stones and drains, and weed by hand.
  • Tidy garden edges: mow grass strips, weed and trim, working from the sides inward where possible.
  • Water plants as needed during dry seasons and top up planted areas with topsoil or compost as required.

Want to go above and beyond to care for your rain garden?

  • Add mulch to bare soil. It helps retain moisture in the summer and prevents erosion during rainstorms.
  • Add one or more new plants. Choose native plants, drought-resistant plants, and/or plants that benefit local birds and pollinators. See our list of suggested plants below.

What if I have issues with my Rain Garden?

Contact the Township of Langley. Some issues you may encounter are:

  • blockages that you cannot clear
  • broken culverts or other damage you are unable to repair
  • significant erosion in the rain garden channel
  • spills and pollution that appear to be harmful

For additional information and/or maintenance tips, refer to the documents listed below.

Suggested Plants

Ornamental Grass
  • Sedge (Carex spp.)
  • Northern oat grass (Chasmanthium latifolium)
  • Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia capitosa 'Goldenhaage')
  • Rush (Juncus effuse)
  • Blue hairgrass (Koeleria glauca)
  • Woodrush (Luzula spp.)
  • Panic grass (Panicum spp.)
Perennials and Groundcover
  • Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
  • Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
  • Deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro')
  • Siberian iris (Iris siberica)
  • Western sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
  • Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)
Shrubs
  • Low blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)
  • Low cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lowfast)
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
  • Creeping Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa)
  • Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
  • Carpet rose or bald hip rose (Rosa spp.)
  • Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum
Trees
  • Redbud (Cercis Canadensis 'Pansy')
  • Crabapple (Malus fusca)
  • Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
  • Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

These tools can provide additional guidance for plant selection:

Frequently Asked Questions

Land developers design, build, and maintain rain gardens until the plants are established. Once established, the rain garden becomes the responsibility of the adjacent property owner(s). Per Township Bylaw No. 4758, property owners are responsible for the maintenance of their road frontage, including rain gardens.

Remove by hand. Do not use chemical weed killers, which could enter and pollute the water and natural creek system. Do not use a string trimmer or other machine; it might chop off a desirable plant. Dispose of weeds in your Green Cart.

It's not advised unless a plant has died; rain gardens need plants. Your plants have been chosen because of their environmental properties, removing them may lead to clogged streams and messy ditches.

Definitely! Additional plants will enhance the attractiveness and wildlife value of rain gardens. There are many plants on the market that are suitable for rain gardens – but choose wisely. Avoid plants that grow aggressively and steer clear of invasive plants, which cause more harm than good. For the best advice, speak to a garden specialist at a nursery.

Consider visibility and safety. Choose plants that won't grow higher than one metre when fully mature. Place taller plants away from driveways and intersections so that drivers can see pedestrians and cyclists fully. Choose drought-tolerant plants that don't need much watering.

Absolutely! Here are some additional resources on designing and building your own rain garden:

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