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Rain Garden Plant selection

Throughout the Pacific Northwest, rain gardens have become a tool in mitigating storm water runoff from impermeable surfaces like streets and roofs. These gardens are especially useful in urban areas where plant canopy cover is limited. Proper plant selection and soil mixtures create functional rain gardens that prevent flooding and create thriving plant communities. These gardens filter pollutants and pesticides before making it to the groundwater, streams, and wetlands.

Other than their functionality, rain gardens provide aesthetic appeal and stand out on the landscape with plants such as red-twig dogwood, golden sweet flag and orange sedge. 

Rain gardens typically have three zones in their design: zone 3 (least amount of water saturation), zone 2 (occasional standing water events) and zone 1 (normal to frequent water saturation). Choosing the proper plants for each zone of your rain garden is important for plant water uptake and diminishing the chances of flooding. 

The following plants have been pulled from WSU Extension and Stewardship Partners Rain Garden Handout and from observing local rain gardens in Ballard. There are many other plants that work well in rain gardens too, check out the Rain Garden Resource handout for more information. 

** Denotes native status


ASTER; Aster spp.
STRAWBERRY TREE; Arbutus unedo
BARBERRY; Berberis thunbergii
SANTA BARBARA DAISY; Erigeron karvinskianus
**BEACH STRAWBERRY; Fragaria chiloensis
DAYLILY; Hemerocallis spp.
'BLUE STAR', BLUE STAR JUNIPER; Juniperus squamata
LAVENDER; Lavandula spp.
BEARDTONGUE; Penstemon spp.
ORIENTAL POPPIES; Papaver orientale
**RED FLOWERING CURRANT; Ribes sanguineum
THYME; Thymus spp.
CALIFORNIA FUCHSIA; Zauschneria spp.


BUGLEWEED; Ajuga reptans
**COMPACT OREGON GRAPE; Berberis aquifolium ‘Compacta’
**DEER FERN; Blechnum spicant
ORANGE SEDGE; Carex testacea
**SALAL; Gaultheria shallon
JAPANESE SILVER GRASS; Miscanthus sinensis
**SWORD FERN; Polystichum munitum
**SNOWBERRY; Symphoricarpos albus


DWARF SWEET FLAG; Acorus graminea ‘minimus aureus’
**SLOUGH SEDGE; Carex obnupta
**RED OSIER DOGWOOD; Cornus sericea
BLOODTWIG DOGWOOD; Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
**DAGGER-LEAF RUSH; Juncus ensifolius
**STINK CURRANT; Ribes bracteosum
DWARF ARCTIC BLUE WILLOW; Salix purpurea ‘Nana’
BLACK LACE ELDERBERRY; Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’


Hinman, C. Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington Homeowners. 2013. Washington State
    Extension and Stewardship Partners. 

Rain Garden Care: A Guide for Residents and Community Organizations. King Conservation District.