Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments
Rain Gardens

What is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is a planted depression low spot that filters dirty stormwater using plants that are naturally adapted to our local environment. Stormwater that is diverted from roofs and sidewalks to a rain garden will soak into the garden, preventing polluted stormwater from entering streams. Rain gardens can also help with problems like basement flooding and can enhance yards by beautifying the landscape. Rain gardens are not designed to hold water for extended periods of time, just long enough to let the water soak into the ground naturally. Although a rain garden is considered low maintenance, continued upkeep is key to maintaining a beautiful rain garden for many years.

Image coutesy City of Toledo

A rain garden is just one type of green infrastructure. Like a rain garden, green infrastructure is an approach to managing
stormwater runoff and reducing pollution through a combination of natural and engineered methods. Visit TMACOG’s green infrastructure webpage to learn more.

>>Click here. for a map of other green infrastructure in the TMACOG region

>>Do you have a rain garden or other green infrastructure that you’d like to tell us about?
     Put your rain garden (or other green infrastructure) on the map.

TMACOG has worked with partners to plan for, fund, and install green infrastructure practices in the Toledo area. Here are some projects managed by TMACOG and funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a federal program that provides funding and support to protect and restore the Great Lakes including our own Western Basin of Lake Erie.

Belmont-Forest Biocells
Beginning in 2015, TMACOG, the City of Toledo, and the Junction Community began plans to install two bioretention cells on vacant lots at the corner of Belmont and Forest Avenues in Toledo. In 2016, the joint lots (a total of 0.75 acres) were engineered and excavated to create bioretention cells. Curb cuts and pipes running under the existing sidewalks allow stormwater flowing along the street gutter to enter the cells through swales. The bioretention cells hold stormwater flows during rain events thereby reducing the volume of water going into the combined sewer system, and potentially relieving some overflow into Swan Creek. It is estimated that these biocells, which accept water from a 4.3-acre watershed, will remove more than 760 pounds of total suspended solids (TSS) from the combined sewer system each year. This project was originally conceived through work with University of Toledo undergraduate engineering students. The preliminary research was then designed by City of Toledo engineers to ensure that all engineering standards were met. The City of Toledo Division of Engineering Services was responsible for design engineering. Schoen Construction was contracted to excavate and build the rain garden profile, Mannik & Smith provided project oversight and landscape design, and A&J Landscaping was the project landscaper and will provide maintenance during the establishment period.

The Belmont-Forest biocells are funded by a $250,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) subgrant of the Ohio EPA Maumee River Sediment & Nutrient Reduction Project. Because of to cost-effective project management and construction, the original grant funds were also used to pay for additional green infrastructure – rain gardens and swales – in other areas of the city.

Drainage area of Belmont-Forest Biocells

South Cell - Fall 2014 - prior to construction

South Cell - August 2017 - One year after construction

Belmont-Forest | North Lot- Fall 2014
Belmont-Forest | North lot- August 2017
Pollinators seen as monarch butterflies and honeybees can be found at the Belmont-Forest Biocells.










































Elm St. Near Huron St.
TMACOG, the Land Bank, and the Aurora Project partnered to meet some of Aurora Project’s goals for community beautification. Two linear rain gardens installed on formerly blighted properties capture runoff from a neighboring property. Floralandscape was contracted to design, excavate, build, and plant the rain gardens.

May 2017 - Rain Gardens will direct rainwater from the house on the right. The structure on the left was demolished by the Land bank in August, 2017. A rain garden will be planted on the resulting empty lot.
August 4, 2017 - Demolition took place through a partnership between the Land Bank and the City of Toledo.

August 14, 2017 - Vacant lots were stabilized with grass seed after two blighted structures were demolished.
November 2017 - Aurora House twin Rain gardens immediately after construction and planting



































Wilson Park
TMACOG and the City of Toledo worked with a neighborhood group to install a rain garden at the Wilson Park shelter house. Neighborhood youth have been working with a facilitator over the past several years to create a space to memorialize those lost to violence. The large rain garden that will be installed as part of these existing plans will be the springboard to furthering the larger community vision. The City of Toledo and others contributed funds to expand the rain garden installation to include a reflection space. The City of Toledo Division of Engineering services was responsible for rain garden engineering and landscape design. Floralandscape was contracted to excavate, build, and plant the rain garden.

Late October 2017 – Landscapers plant natives in the Wilson Park rain garden.
November 2017 – Finished rain garden filters stormwater from the Wilson Park shelter house during a rain event

















Homeowner Rain Gardens
TMACOG worked with individual homeowners in the Junction Neighborhood to plant rain gardens on vacant lots adjacent to occupied property. Homeowners maintain these vacant lots and use rain gardens as a way to beautify their extended property. Floralandscape was contracted to design, excavate, build, and plant the rain gardens.

September 2017 – One of two rain gardens on vacant side lots on Blum Street

September 2017 – Landscapers plant natives in a rain garden on Blum Street
















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