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© Earth Partnership for Schools • University of Wisconsin – Madison Arboretum Plan a Rain Garden 3-2BackgroundDesigning a rain garden on the school ground with native plants is an excit-ing process that improves the quality of water, provides habitat for wildlife, and offers opportunities for educational and serendipitous experiences with nature. A rain garden is simply a depression in the ground that allows water to soak into the ground to reduce surface runoff and to recharge groundwa-ter. Rain gardens catch runoff from roofs, driveways, sidewalks, yards and other hard surfaces, which reduces pollutants entering waterways. The idea is to capture rain water close to where it falls rather than allowing it to collect and increase in volume and speed as it travels to the nearest waterway pick-ing up pollutants and washing away soil.When locating a garden, observe the drainage area and where storm water naturally runs over the school grounds. Locate a garden where water collects in a low ...