Rain garden next to road
(Photo credit: Aaron Volkening / Flickr)

As downpours become more common, many people are installing rain gardens – landscaped depressions in the ground that can capture excess stormwater. But not every plant works well in every rain garden.

“Finding the right plants for the created conditions can be challenging,” says Jason Cooper of Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc.

He says some green infrastructure projects require plants that can tolerate high levels of pollution or salt.

Others need drought-tolerant species. For example, just because a basin collects water on a rainy day does not mean that it’s always wet.

“You might have very sandy soils over a gravel layer that moves water very quickly through the system, and so the plant environment is actually very dry,” Cooper says.

To help people in the Milwaukee region select the right plants for their projects, he helped create an online tool. It provides species recommendations based on the information users enter about their site’s soil depth, moisture, sun conditions and more.

The goal is to assist residents, developers, and municipalities:

“So that everybody wants to install green infrastructure and it’s done easily and successfully,” Cooper says.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.