Rain Gardens of Scotland

Since 2011 Scotland has been working hard to improve the quality of its waters. They established Scotland Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) as regulatory enforcement and public educator regarding many forms of pollution, including water.

It was determined early on in the life of the agency that staying with the simple pipe drainage systems would continue polluting the waterways. And the waterways would become more polluted as population increased. They came up with a multi-pronged plan of management and treatment that included public education and involvement. One of those prongs was the rain garden.

Rain gardens are part of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems. Sets of practices, which focus on prevention and reduction of water pollution alongside water harvesting, and constructed facilities include permeable surfaces, filters, swales, detention systems, wetlands and ponds, and rain gardens.

What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is any plot of land having plant life designed to receive rain water run-off from impermeable urban surfaces. The idea is that the water is allowed to drain into the soil and become a part of the local supply of groundwater, instead of being funneled out of the area by pipe drainage systems. One of the best things about them is that scale from small areas a home owner can beautify their property with to huge, regional plans. Check the image to see how they work.

Image Credit: Tip of the Mitt Watershed Counsel via Landarchs.com

Are rain gardens unique to Scotland?
No. They are being used in England, Australia, and the United States. The projects are supported by the public and are part of the public water works.

What makes a rain garden sustainable?
Rain gardens are considered sustainable because they use native plants and soils to preserve habitats for birds, butterfly, and insects. Special soil is not needed as long as the native soil is permeable. When the soil is not permeable enough to filter water it must be replaced with a mix typically made up of 60% sand, 20% compost, and 20% topsoil. The mix will vary depending on the location.
Rain gardens are not difficult to install, but are labor and time intensive. Monetary costs will vary depending on available labor pools (family, friends, helpful neighbors, or professionals) and sales on plants, soil, and rocks.


Rain gardens do not solve all the water pollution problems Scotland or any other area of the World has. They work in unison with proper legislation, public education, and personal action.

To find information on how you can create a rain garden where you live, click here:

 University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources put this guide together.
And the City of Portland Oregon has this step by step guide here.
Wiki How: Rain garden in 15 steps.

Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum: http://www.sgif.org.uk/
Scotland Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.sepa.org.uk/