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What is a "Rainscape"?

Rainscapes look like regular landscapes at a glance. However one major difference exists: rainscapes are designed to retain and infiltrate a known quantity of runoff generated from a certain area, such as a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, or street. Rainscapes prevent rain from becoming polluted stormwater runoff.

Above ground, Rainscapes mirror traditional landscape, but their commonalities end with plants and mulch. A great deal of work below ground ensures that a 1.25" rain infiltrates, or .78 gallons per square foot of area are managed by the practice. Each best management practice falls into one of two categories - the Basic Rainscape or the Engineered Rainscape.



Engineered Rainscape

Bioswales are installed as an alternative to storm sewers and consist of permeable soil, perforated subdrain, and earthen berms.


Green Roofs & Living Walls

Engineered Rainscape

A green roof incorporates vegetation, soil or another growing medium, and a drainage layer over a waterproof membrane on a roof.


Bioretention Cells

Engineered Rainscape

Bioretention cells are landscaped depressions that capture and infiltrate stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.


Permeable Pavement Systems

Engineered Rainscape

Permeable or porous pavement allows water to infiltrate around and/or through the surface into engineered layers of rock below the pavement and then into surrounding soils.

Water Grassland

Constructed Wetlands

Engineered Rainscape

Wetlands decrease stormwater flow rates and volumes through absorption, evapotranspiration, and outlet restrictions.


Tree Boxes

Engineered Rainscape

Trees are mini-reservoirs for rain and reduce urban stormwater runoff at the source by intercepting and holding rain on leaves, branches and bark.

Hire a Certified Rainscaper

In search of a qualified individual to provide advice on Rainscaping practices? ISWEP certifies professionals that can design, install, inspect, or maintain practices and ensure they function properly well after construction is complete.


River Restoration

Engineered Rainscape

River restoration includes a variety of practices to restore the natural functions of a stream ecosystem, including floodplain functions.


Rain Gardens

Basic Rainscape

Landscaped depressions that capture runoff from a property and allows it to drain slowly.


Native Turf

Basic Rainscape

Native turf features a blend of low-growing native or warm season grasses that provide a lawn-like appearance with minimal maintenance, while enhancing soil quality.


Soil Quality Restoration

Basic Rainscape

Soil quality restoration is the process of improving soil health on new or existing lawns.


Rainwater Harvesting

Basic Rainscape

Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater and storing it for later use (e.g. watering your garden or lawn) using a barrel or cistern.


Native Landscaping

Basic Rainscape

Native landscaping features hardy plants and grasses with deep root systems, which create open space in the soil below and allow rainfall to percolate deep into the ground.

Order "Rainscaping" Signs!

ISWEP and Polk County SWCD have developed metal signs that can be placed near most green infrastructure practices to explain the purpose and design to the public. Designs are included for bioretention cells, bioswales, native landscaping, native turf, P-Free lawns, permeable pavement, prairie in progress, rain gardens, "Rainscaped", rainwater harvesting, redirected downspouts, soil quality restoration, and stream buffers.


 Example Design: