UW-Madison Libraries Wisconsin's Water Library
Rain Gardens
Reading list

April showers bring rain gardens! Plant a rain garden for your May flowers this year and prevent excess or polluted runoff from going down a storm sewer. Rain gardens capture water in a shallow depression planted with vegetation that filters the water as it slowly seeps into the ground. This creates cleaner groundwater and protects our lakes and streams. To learn how to start, look into the following titles from Wisconsin’s Water Library. Wisconsin residents can request any of the books by filling out a book request form.

Please also visit Web sites of Interest at the bottom of this page for more information.


Call No. 020568
Design Guidelines for Stormwater Bioretention Facilities / By Dustin Atchison, Ken Potter, and Linda Severson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute2006.

Call No. 240544
Sustainable Landscape Construction: A Guide to Green Building Outdoors / By J. William Thompson and Kim Sorviq. Washington, D.C.: Island Press2000.

Call No. 240560
Rain Gardens: A how-to manual for homeowners / By R. Bannerman. University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources2003.
Full text available
A detailed manual that covers rain garden sizing and site, construction details and planting and maintenance. Includes 11 conceptual planting designs with plant species lists.

Call No. 240561
Water Gardens / By Susan Lang and T. Jeff Williams. Sunset Books: Menlo Park, California2004.

Call No. 240562
Rain Gardens: A household way to improve water quality in your community / By R. Bannerman. University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources2002.

Call No. 240563
The rain garden planner : seven steps to conserving and managing water in the garden / By Terry Wallace. Atglen, PA : Schiffer Pub.2009.
Encourages the homeowner to conserve water by restoring natural processes that filter and return water to groundwater reservoirs.

Call No. 240567
The Blue Thumb guide to raingardens : design and installation for homeowners in the Upper Midwest : a guide for planting zones 3, 4 and 5 / By Rusty Schmidt, Dan Shaw, and David Dods. [River Falls, Wis.? : Waterdrop Innovations]2007.
A valuable rain garden reference guide for homeowners and professional designers in the Upper Midwest. It contains easy to follow instructions on how to located, size, and design raingardens, soil preparation, plant selection and installation, care and maintenance, and example raingarden plans.

Web Sites of Interest
Edgewood College's Rain Garden Project
With its close proximity to Lake Wingra, Edgewood College is planting rain gardens in areas with standing water in order to reduce the amount of pollution running into the lakes. Research has shown that over half of lake pollution is caused by local residents landscape practices and not by agriculture. Rain gardens are an easy way to help curb this statistic.

How to Build a Rain Garden
Short and sweet description on how to build a rain garden. Includes a list of native (to Southern Wisconsin) plants.

Rain Gardens
Lots of useful links on how to keep our storm water clean, including links on constructing rain gardens and maintaining our yards and gardens without harming it.

What is a rain garden?
Includes lots of great links.

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UW-Madison Libraries Wisconsin's Water Library University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute