What is a rain garden?

Rain Gardens are our best bet to prepare our streets to climate change.

A simple solution with multiple benefits!

By simply keeping the rain out of the drains and putting it in the ground we reduce flood risks and much more:

Reduce pollution in rivers

Rain gardens catch road runoff and pass it thorough soil. Here the contaminates are filtered out before the water reaches the water table.

Enhance biodiversity

Replacing grass patches with a range of native flowers that have yummy sweets for pollinators we make the streets more inviting to both animals and residents 🙂

Cool our streets

Moisture kept in the soil is carried up through the plants. This helps to keep the street moist and cooler in summer.

How do rain gardens work?

Slide 1

When it rains

Road runoff is directed into the rain garden, where it soaks into the soil that is kept loose and absorbent by the root of the plants, the organic material.

Slide 2

After the rain ends

The runoff collects at the bottom of the garden where it can infiltrate slowly to the water table, and feed the plants.

Slide 3

When it really pours down

During extreme storms, the rain garden will swell and overflow back to the road, and the excess water will go down the road drain.

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What are the benefits of a rain garden?

Cleaner River

Fewer raw sewage spills from combined sewer overflows

Greener Streets

More trees and plants cool our streets in summer and provide habitat for more species

Less Sewage

Reduces pressure from drains and water treatment centers

Safer Homes

Neighbourhoods more resilient to flooding and climate change

How does a rain garden work?

We’ll begin by digging out some of the soil – up to 80cm deep, loosen it up and return some of it mixed with compost. The level of the top of the soil in the garden will be a bit lower than the level of the road.

Then we’ll be cutting slots in the kerb, to allow runoff into the garden, where new flower and plants will be waiting for them.

What will it look like?

Green Verge

This is the verge at the moment – the gutter is overwhelmed and the grass is… well… grass…

This is what it will look like by the end of summer – bursting with blossom!

This work is kindly funded by the National Lottery Climate Action Fund, as part of the River Cam CAN project led by Cambridge Past, Present & Future. It couldn’t have been carried out without the great support of the Cambridgeshire County Council.

Rain Garden News

  • A Very Good Good Friday: Planting day
    A Very Good Good Friday: Planting day

    What a turnout to our community planting day! It was a brilliant, the culmination of over a year of planning and design, with folks from the neighbourhood – Fen Road, Water Street and Fallowfield – with their families, gloves and trowels. We were lucky with the weather, the threat of rain was always close but…

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  • Grass verge to rain verge
    Grass verge to rain verge

    We are thrilled that our pilot project is taking off this week! This week we are trialing what we think will be the quickest way of installing rain gardens across our streets – turning green verges into rain verges!!The corner of Fallowfield and Fen Road in Chesterton is a dred to cross after every downpour.…

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  • Dear River Festival
    Dear River Festival

    “Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense.“ – Mark Angelo, founder of World Rivers Day Public engagement and celebration are essential to us at Water Sensitive Cambridge (WSC). We were therefore excited to host our first event, “Dear River: Stories, Soup and Thanks”, as a celebration at the…

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