Sustainable Landscaping
healthy lawn care
rain gardens



80 Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI 02852

Demonstration Rain Garden

A Beautiful Way to Protect Narragansett Bay and Replenish Your Water Supply. View our brochure about the garden (click here for print version.)

July 27, 2006

The garden that adorns the North Kingstown Town Hall's front lawn provides more than a pleasing array of ornamental shrubs and plants. It protects the environment and serves as a demonstration rain garden.

A rain garden is a natural or dug shallow depression designed to capture and soak up stormwater runoff from your roof or other impervious areas around your home like driveways, walkways, and even compacted lawn areas. In addition to adding beauty to your home landscape, rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff from your property and replenish groundwater.

Click here for details on planning, design and installation - before and after 
Donor recognition
How the garden works
Why the garden was installed
Rain Garden Plants
Photo Gallery One
Photo Gallery Two
Visit our rain garden page - general information and additional resources

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Photo Gallery One

July 27, 2006

January 30, 2006

December 2005, photo courtesy of URI Master Gardener, Evelyn Quinn

Fall 2005 photo updates:

Winterberry, photo taken October 7, 2005.

Installation of garden sign, October 7, 2005.

October 28, 2005

July 19, 2005

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Donor recognition
The garden was made possible through generous donations by local businesses. Most notably, David Renzi, owner of Out in Front Horticulture and a URI Master Gardener, provided assistance with the planning and design of the garden. David donated his services and crew to install the garden with assistance from additional URI Master Gardener volunteers.

Special thanks to the following local businesses, organizations and individuals:

David Renzi and crew, Out in Front Horticulture
Town of North Kingstown
Holly Ridge Nursery
Little Tree Farm and Gardens
Morningstar Nurseries
Rose Shack
Schartner Farms
Taylor Rental Center
The Farmer’s Daughter
Wickford Lumber Co
Wildwood Nurseries

URI Master Gardener volunteers installed and monitored the garden: David Renzi, Valerie Harvey, Dori Gerhardt, Joy Gerstenblatt, Evelyn Quinn, and Hilary Sowa

Special thanks to Michael E. Dietz, Department of Natural Resources Management and Engineering, University of Connecticut for technical review and assistance.

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How the garden works
Stormwater runoff from one of the Town Hall’s roof gutter downspouts (southwest corner) is directed to the rain garden through an underground plastic pipe. The garden was hand dug to form a depression with the excavated soil being used to make a berm around the low side of the garden. This creates a uniform depression that can temporarily hold runoff until it soaks into the ground. Perennial shrubs and herbaceous plants, specially selected for their ability to tolerate temporary pooling of water as well as dry periods, were planted and will aid in soaking up the runoff. The garden may temporarily pool water for about 4 to 6 hours after a rain event.

Rain Gardens are designed to temporarily pool and soak up runoff water

Water was flushed through the pipe to test the connections before back-filling. Water is run long enough to cause pooling for observation. May 2, 2005.

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Why the garden was installed
Prior to the rain garden installation, the runoff from the Town Hall’s southwest corner downspout spilled onto Reynolds Street through an existing underground pipe and into a storm drain, eventually making its way to a storm drain and nearby Narragansett Bay. The garden reduces runoff and potential water pollution and also replenishes valuable groundwater resources. These are important benefits to a community such as North Kingstown that has 31 miles of coastline, an abundance of fresh water resources, and relies solely on groundwater resources for its drinking water supply.

It is important to understand that while this rain garden certainly helps to reduce some of the roof runoff from the Town Hall it does not handle all of the runoff that is generated from the remaining roof area, parking lots or even some lawn areas on the property. However, when each resident takes similar steps to reduce stormwater runoff and increase groundwater recharge, the cumulative benefits to the community and watershed can make a big difference.

The North Kingstown Town Hall is widely visible and open to public access, making it an ideal spot for a demonstration that inspires residents to take similar steps on their property. We encourage residents to observe the garden regularly for ideas and to monitor its performance.

The rain garden should not pool water for more than 6 hours after a rain event due to both plant and mosquito concerns. Soils with slow drainage or compaction problems can result in a longer pooling period. If you have areas in your yard that are already wet or poorly drained, this is not a good location for a rain garden.

At approximately 10’ by 16’ (160 square feet) and six inches deep, this garden was sized to handle the first one inch of runoff from the roof gutter downspout and surrounding lawn area that drains naturally into the garden. The first one inch of runoff typically contains the greatest amount of pollutants. The dimensions 10’ by 16’ allow for an attractive crescent shape design.

May 24, 2005 -- the garden experiences minimal to no pooling during the first few rain events.

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Rain Garden Plants
The rain garden contains mostly native plants that can tolerate both temporary pooling and dry periods. The plants were selected based on a combination of aesthetic beauty, wildlife value, and the need for low maintenance. In addition, a wide variety of plants is being used in the garden to monitor their performance. Container plants or plants with a well-established root system are important when starting a rain garden to guard against soil erosion and plant wash-out.

The rain garden currently contains the following plants:

Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis
Sweet Pepperbush 'hummingbird', Clethra alnifolia
Red Twig Dogwood 'Ivory Halo', Cornus sericea
Inkberry 'shamrock', Ilex glabra
Winterberry Holly, Ilex verticillata
Highbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum
Cinnamon Fern, Osmunda cinnamomea trial basis

Compost was mixed into the natural soil upon planting and spread over the entire garden. Mulch was applied to conserve soil moisture, reduce weeds, and protect against soil erosion. The plants will need periodic watering, especially during dry spells, but are otherwise low maintenance plants that usually do not require added fertilizer, pesticides and water. Periodic weeding, mulching, plant thinning, and pruning will also be needed.

Many of these plants can be found in the URI Cooperative Extension GreenShare Sustainable Tree and Shrub Manual.

For a more comprehensive tree, shrub and herbaceous plant list, visit our rain garden fact sheet page, click here.

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Photo Gallery Two

The orange flowers are wild columbine in bloom, May 17, 2005.

The back edge of the garden contains red twig dogwood, the top of the berm contains Inkberry (evergreen) and Highbush Blueberry, May 2, 2005.

The plants in the front and bottom of the garden include Sweet Pepperbush and Winterberry. Cinnamon fern was transplated from another site on a trial basis and may not be able to tolerate prolonged dry spells.

May 24, 2005.

June 17, 2005.

June 30, 2005

Plants at top of berm, front of picture are Joe-Pye Weed, planted June 2005. Beyond at bottom of garden you can see the sweet fern. Photo taken June 30, 2005. The Joe-Pye Weed was replaced in May 2006 with additional wild columbine for aesthetic reasons.

July 19, 2005

Field stone

Field stone was placed beneath the pipe outlet and extends into the garden a few feet to slow the runoff down and protect against soil erosion. Crushed stone can also be used for this purpose. May 2, 2005.

Additional stones were placed in the garden for design interest. The garden will be monitored during and after storm events for signs of erosion or overflow. The pipe contains an end cap with many small holes that allow the water to flow and prevent debris and wildlife access.

May 17, 2005.

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