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Rainscaping as Stormwater Solutions

This video of both a rock garden and a rain garden was taken outside city hall in Pleasant Hill, Iowa. Stormwater runoff can push sediments and chemical contaminants from human activity into stormwater drains and eventually rivers and streams. Rainscaping is a way to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff especially in concrete laden cities. The plants’ roots within the rain gardens help filter the stormwater runoff of pollutants. Although many of these projects are funded by community organizations, several criteria including soil conditions, material costs, types of vegetation/garden, and maintenance must be considered in the planning of these types of projects. 

Pleasant Hill, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • How does rainscaping affect stormwater runoff? 
  • What social, cultural, and environmental impacts can be foreseen with a rainscaping project?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Design and conduct an investigation to test which plants would filter stormwater the best. 
  • Determine the criteria and constraints to use in designing a rainscape. 
  • Design a specific rain garden for their schoolyard or somewhere in their community.  
  • Estimate the stormwater runoff from their rain garden designs.  
  • Evaluate and refine the design of rain scapes in their communities. 
  • Describe the environmental impacts of their design. 

Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment


Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems

Credit Info

Submitted by Michelle Seddon


Have you used this resource in your classroom? Do you have ideas for improvement? Share your ideas, experiences and feedback about this phenomena.

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