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Rain garden at Butler SWCD

Rain Gardens


A rain garden is a planted depression in your yard that captures rainwater from roofs, driveways and walkways where rain water cannot be absorbed by the ground. The rain garden reduces runoff by allowing rainwater to slowly soak into the ground instead of flowing to storm drains and creeks. This reduces erosion, water pollution and flooding. A rain garden is not a pond, but more of an earthen sponge that soaks up runoff in a matter of hours. The garden is dry most of the time. A simple percolation test shows how fast your soil drains.


Rain gardens usually are filled with native plants. Why natives? Because they evolved to fit their environment. They are naturally drought, flood and pest resistant in their native region. That translates to less work for the novice gardener and the pro, once all the initial work is done.


Remember before you dig to call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) at 1-800-362-2764 to find out if there are any buried pipes or lines.


Butler SWCD and the OSU Master Gardeners created a small rain garden outside of our building. This rain garden doubles as a pollinator garden and is filled with many native species of plants.


Become a Master Rain Gardener

In 2022, the Cincy Master Rain Gardener (MRG) program began in the Tri-State area. The 5 day long course (typically runs on 5 consecutive Friday mornings) is offered in the Spring and Fall.  To become a MRG, you need to attend the classes, then either build a rain garden or adopt one.  Find out more at

Planting at Hopewell Elementary
Planting at Hopewell Elementary
Hopewell Elementary Stormwater Enhancement Project Rain Gardens


In May of 2015, two large rain gardens were planted as a part of a massive water quality project at Hopewell Elementary in West Chester. This is a part of the Hopewell Elementary Stormwater Enhancement Project.  3rd grader students and staff helped to plant 1,500 plants in the rain gardens. As a part of this project  many more plants will be added to an upstream constructed wetland.


This stormwater project involves stream, riparian, and wetland restoration practices for stormwater management on the East Fork of the Mill Creek in West Chester Twp. 


This is a partnership between Butler Soil and Water Conservation District, the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities, and Lakota School District. Cardno JFNew won the bid as the contractor for the rproject.


Various other local schools including Wilson Middle School and Ridgeway Elementary in Hamilton have also developed smaller rain garden projects on their property.


Rain Garden Guidelines for Southwest Ohio pdf

Rain Garden Plants from Penn State

Rain Garden Plants for the Rain Garden Alliance (please check to make sure they are native to this area)


Rain Gardens: Iowa Rain garden Design and Installation Manual

Soil Texture Test pdf

Soil Percolation Test pdf

Workshop Recording

Below, you will find a recording from a virtual workshop held on June 2, 2020 by Butler SWCD in partnership with Bulls Run Arboretum 

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