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Near the entrance to the South Bay Trail this triangle-shaped rain garden drains and filters runoff with the help of native plantings and absorbent mulch.

South Bay Trail Rain Garden

Where is this located? It’s just 20 feet further along the West Bay Trail from the 10th Street Rain Garden.

What’s special about this place? This natural vegetation is more than just a pretty little spot on the side of the trail. This low-impact technique captures and filters out muddy stormwater that runs off the trail’s surface. With wild rose bushes and grasses, it was intentionally installed here on the trail. The mulch and hardy native plants used here are selected for their ability to absorb water through their roots. As thorny as the wild roses are, many animals eat their seeds, petals, and orange/red fruit called rose hips. Rain gardens are very good at what they do. They can remove up to 90% of nutrient pollution and chemicals found in stormwater runoff. They can also capture up to 80% of sediments contained in the runoff. Compared to lawns, rain gardens allow 30% more water to soak into the ground. 

About Rain Gardens

rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden that collects, absorbs, and filters the rainwater that runs off hard surfaces including parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, lawns, and roofs. They provide on-site cleaning of stormwater by using special soil mixtures and low-maintenance plants that soak up runoff. The soil mixes used in rain gardens are selected to allow water to soak in rapidly, treat runoff, and support plant growth. Hardy, often native, plants are carefully selected for each site, including wildflowers, grasses, rushes, ferns, shrubs, and even small trees. These plants can have the added benefit of attracting pollinators, providing habitat for beneficial insects and birds, adding beauty, and improving neighboring property values.

Rain gardens can be small and home-made, or they can be engineered with specific materials to be highly effective. Home-made rain gardens are usually applied in smaller, residential systems working to intercept runoff that would otherwise flow onto streets. Engineered rain gardens are a type of bioretention basin and are sized for specific water quality treatment and flow control capacity that includes designed soil mixes and, often, under-drains and control structures. All the rain gardens highlighted on these tours are engineered bioretention facilities.

Water Quality Benefit: Rain gardens can capture sediment and bacteria, capture oil, pesticides, and fertilizers, and use their mulch layer to bind-up dissolved metals. Plant roots also are host to diverse microbial and fungal populations that filter pollution using biological processes.

Water Quantity Benefit: Special soil mixtures are chosen to allow water to soak into the ground. Roots break up the soil so water can soak into the ground more easily. By absorbing runoff from hard surfaces, rain gardens reduce flooding on neighboring property, reduce erosion in streams, and may recharge local groundwater.

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Drains about 1,000 square feet. 

Where does this stormwater runoff come from? Stormwater at this site comes strictly from the nearby South Bay Trail.

Where does this stormwater runoff flow next? All runoff at this site infiltrates into the soils below and doesn’t connect to other systems.