Madison has four rain gardens on municipal property. These rain gardens work to absorb stormwater that would otherwise run off into our stormwater system, carrying debris and pollutants to streams and rivers in the process. Instead, the rain gardens help prevent flooding and allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground, which helps to replenish the aquifer that supplies Madison’s drinking water. During a storm, water is directed into these rain gardens and within 24 to 48 hours is absorbed into the ground.
The gardens are planted with native species that provide numerous environmental benefits - including flood prevention, air and water purification services, and food and habitat for vital pollinators. These rain gardens are maintained by volunteers from the Garden Club of Madison, scout troops, students, and other interested residents. Volunteers are always welcome.
Gibbons Pines Park
Gibbons Place & Woodland Rd. Installed in 2018, this rain garden was created to address an issue of unsightliness when water from storms collected in a low-lying area of the park. It has grown into a mature rain garden with native river birches, shrubs, and perennials. Due to the introduction of pollinator plants, it qualifies as a Monarch Way Station.
Madison Recreation and Conservation Complex
184 Ridgedale Ave. Three rain gardens were installed in 2012. The largest rain garden takes in water that is directed from artificial turf fields and a grassy slope via a culvert, or drainpipe. What the rain garden can’t absorb flows out into a stream at the opposite end from the culvert. The other two rain gardens take stormwater runoff from the parking lot. The runoff is directed into the rain gardens through openings in the parking lot curbs (“curb cuts”) that are filled with rocks. Each of these two gardens has an overflow pipe. The top of this pipe sits above the normally expected level of water from a storm, so that in extreme rain events, where there is too much water for the garden to hold in its basin before it infiltrates into the ground, the excess water will flow into the pipe, which connects into the stormwater system.
Visit the Rutgers Rain Gardens website to learn more about rain gardening. Perhaps there’s a spot for a rain garden or native plant garden in your yard.