Rain Gardens
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Rain Garden Resource Center

The Office of Sustainability wants to encourage the use of storm water as a valuable natural resource instead of managing it as a pollution source.  Rain gardens and native planting areas are a beautiful way for you to help use storm water as a valuable natural resource.  The Rain Garden Resource Center connects residents, businesses, and institutions with the resources and tools to design and build their own rain garden.  Everything you need is outlined: supplies, customized planting plans, maintenance guidelines, and more are all in one place.  Once you get your rain garden planted, register your rain garden here​ to get credit for your efforts!

What’s New

It’s never too soon to start planning your rain garden! Whether its fall and you want to prepare the soil before winter or spring and you want to start planting. As you begin your planting for the year, the Office of Sustainability encourages you to choose native plants and non-invasive species when deciding what to plant around your home or business.

To help you get started, here's a list of Native Indiana Plants:

​Native Trees ​Native Shrubs ​​Native Flowers
​Eastern Red Cedar ​Serviceberry ​Redbud
​Hemlock ​New Jersey Tea ​Aster
​Hackberry ​Spicebrush ​Dogwood
​Tulip Poplar ​Ninebark ​Goldenrod
​Shagbark Hickory ​Sumac ​Bee Balm
​White Pine ​Elderberry ​Phlox
​Red Maple ​Gray Dogwood ​Liatris
​Oaks ​Silky Dogwood ​Purple Coneflower
​Walnut or Butternut Virginia Sweetspire​ ​Summer Sweet 
​Red Bud ​Winterberry Holly
​Black Gum ​Buttonbrush

More approved native plants can be found here.

Remember, our Office is here to help! If you have questions about native plants and non-invasive species, send an email to raingardens@indy.gov​​

Build Your Own Rain Garden​​

A rain garden is an attractive garden with a special purpose - to improve local water quality, reduce the impacts of storm water on area streams, and beautify the community. Communities around the country have experienced dramatic reductions in storm water pollution due to citizens installing rain gardens and native plantings on their properties. Check out the Build Your Own page for more information.

Register Your Rain Garden Program

If you are within the city limits of Indianapolis, you are encouraged to register your rain garden with the City of Indianapolis and get credit on your storm water fee if it meets the requirements. Registering your rain garden will also allow the City report on the progress of rain garden growth.

To register your rain garden, submit the application found on the Storm Water Credit​ page.

Planting in the Right-Of-Way

What is the right-of-way?

A right-of-way is city owned property along streets extending beyond the edge of the road. Commonly, this is the lawn strip between street and sidewalk.

A permit is required for any tree planting, landscaping, spraying, bracing, removal or pruning work in the city's right-of-way.

Permitting Guidance

The term rain garden encompasses a large variety of applications and scales of practice. In general, a small voluntary rain garden on private property will likely not need a permit.  However, permitting causes a challenge because of the large variety of applications and scales of practice.  Rain gardens are construction and construction often requires permits and considerations. Permits are based on land disturbance, construction in special areas (historic districts, regional centers, etc.), and disturbance to waterways or city infrastructure (storm sewer pipes, ditches, swales, water bodies, etc.).

Technical Assistance

If you have questions about rain gardens or native planting areas you would like answered, technical assistance may be available upon request. Please send an email to raingardens@indy.gov.