Rain Gardens

rain garden

Rain Gardens and Rain Garden (SuDS) Planters

Our rain garden planter have been designed using the principles of rain gardens as outlined below. 

Rain gardens, or water runoff gardens, are a key component of eco-friendly and sustainable landscapes.

With the extensive loss of front gardens, and other planted areas, including lawns, urban flooding occurs.  This is because rain falls in towns and cities faster than it can be drained by the sewer network, absorbed into the soil or conveyed to streams, rivers, water bodies or reservoirs.

In recent years, with climate change, this is a major re-occurring problem in towns and cities throughout the UK.


Benefits of rain gardens, as recognised by the RHS

  • Low maintenance garden – no watering once plants have established
  • Can absorb up to 30% more water than a lawn
  • Offers opportunities to plant a wide range of perennials
  • Reduces erosion by slowing heavy rainfall
  • Increased planting attracts insects and birds
  • Avoids the need to sink a soakaway

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)


Rain gardens provide an inexpensive and instant way to create an attractive attenuating Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS)* that will:

  • slow surface water flows
  • significantly reduce surface water flood risk, particularly in urban areas with extensive sloping roof areas
  • filter pollution and improve water quality

*SuDS - Sustainable drainage systems include a range of techniques for holistically managing water run-off to reduce the quantity, of surface water that drains into sewers from a development. The SuDS increase the quality of the water release by a natural filtering purification processes. In general SuDS mimic natural systems, and manage rain close to where it falls. SuDS not only reduce the burden on our sewerage system, they can also help wildlife to thrive in urban areas, with many of the drainage systems being intrinsically wildlife friendly.   

rain garden
rain garden

Rain Garden Planters


Rain Garden Planters, or Gutter Planters, adopt the principles of SuDS,

 Designed to:

  • manage rainwater run-off from domestic and commercial roofs
  • reduce the risk of flooding in the sewer network
  • improve the quality of surface water entering streams and rivers

Rain garden planters make use of the water that lands on the roof and works in the following way:

1. Water from the downpipe is directed into the planter.

2. The soil / compost mix absorbs and stores the rainwater for the plants to use.

3. Excess rainwater filters into the gravel layer and drains out the base drainage pipe, as illustrated in the adjacent diagram. 

Best Plants for Rain Gardens

Plants for rain planters have to be able to tolerate some wetness at the root zone as well as grow in more normal conditions.

Typical plants include Iris pseudocorus and a range of perennials such as:
  • Geraniums
  • Persicarias
  • Hemerocallis
  • Grasses such as Deschampsia or Miscanthus

Some shrubs such as Cornus sanguinea or even trees, such as Betula would be suitable for a large planter. 

See the table below for a comprehensive list of plants suitable for rain gardens:


Common name

Scientific name


Sunlight and Aspect


Guelder rose

Viburnum opulus

Perennial shrub


Native. Flowers attract insects and berries are eaten by birds.


Cornus sanguinea

Perennial shrub


Native. Leaves are larval food for vase bearer moth and berries eaten by birds. Often planted for attractive winter stems.

Culvers root

Veronicastrum virginicum

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Non-native. Tall with long terminal blue flower spikes. On the RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ list.


Aster spp.

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Non-native. Often late flowering. Clump forming. Several species on the RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ list.


Black eyed susan

Rudbeckia birta

Herbaceous annual or biennial

Full sun or partial shade

Non-native. Spectacular yellow and black flowers. On RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ list.

Stinking hellebore

Helleborus foetidus

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Native. Winter flowers.



Crocosmia spp.

Deciduous rhizomatous perennial


Partial shade


Naturalised. Red flowers. Thrives in most conditions.


Ajuga reptans

Rhizomatous perennial

Partial shade

Native. Low growing and will form a mat.


Aquilegia spp.

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Non-native. Clump forming with tall flower spikes. On RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ list.


Inula hookeri

Herbaceous perennial

Partial shade

Tall clump forming with yellow flowers. On RHS ‘plants for pol- linators’ list.

Hemp agrimony

Eupatorium cannabinum

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Native. Sub-shrubs with pink flowers.


Campanula glomerata

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Native. Clumps bearing violet-blue bell shaped flowers.


Helenium sp.

Herbaceous perennial

Full sun

Non-native. Clump forming with red flowers. On RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ list.

Lesser periwinkle

Vinca minor

Perennial sub-shrub


Non-native. Ground cover with blue flowers.

Elephants ear

Bergenia sp.

Rhizomatous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Non-native. Large leaves and pink flowers.

Plantain lilies

Hosta spp.

Herbaceous perennial

Part shade

Non-native. Attractive light coloured flowers.

Yellow flag

Iris pseudocorus

Rhizomatous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Native. Likely to prefer wetter areas near inlet.

Siberian flag

Iris sibirica

Rhizomatous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Non-native. Blue flowers. Prefers moist but well drained soil.

Garlic and onions

Allium spp.

Bulbous perennials

Full sun

Non-native. On RHS ‘plants for pollinators’ list.

Soft rush

Juncus effusus

Evergreen perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Native. Form tussocks – likely to prefer wetter areas.

Pendulous sedge

Carex pendula

Rhizomatous perennial

Full sun or partial shade

Native. Nodding flower spikes. Likely to prefer wetter areas near inlet.


Zebra grass

Miscanthis sinensis

Perennial, deciduous grass


Full sun

Non-native. Tussock forming ornamental grass with silky flowers.


Switch grass

Panicum virgatum

Deciduous perennial grass


Full sun


Non-native. Tussock forming ornamental grass.

Royal fern

Osmunda regalis

Deciduous fern


Native. Large clump-forming plants.


Male fern

Dryopteris felix-mas

Deciduous or evergreen fern

Partial shade or full shade


Native. Large shuttlecock-like form.


Broad buckler fern

Dryopteris dilatata

Deciduous or evergreen fern

Partial shade or full shade


Native. Large shuttlecock-like form.



(From Thames Water UK Rain Garden-Guide)

Rain Garden Planters: An Attractive Adaptation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)



Designed for Flooding

Even if you don’t have room for a rain garden you can still implement sustainable stormwater management. Rain garden planters, or gutter planters, handle rainwater runoff from rooftops and operate like a rain garden inside a planter.

Rain garden planters are perfectly suited to small spaces, as they can be built close to buildings in any configuration and don’t take up very much space.

These planters are an attractive adaptation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) which slows surface water flows,
and reduces surface water flood risk.

With both bioretention and additional internal storage, these planters are an innovative solution to property level retro-fit SuDS, and can work out very much less expensive than most groundworks interventions.

The planter can be made from a number of materials, but we prefer commercial quality Larch Planters for the following reasons:

  • produced by UK craftsmen using Larch from sustainably grown larch woodlands.
  • Larch produces its own intrinsic preservative providing a very long planter life without the use of toxic preservatives.
  • Alternative materials are linked to non sustainable production issues from energy consumption to pollution or toxic issues.

A rain garden planter is a waterproof container filled with layers of:

  • mulch
  • soil
  • sand
These layers filter the water before it passes to the next stage of rainwater management.

Water may discharge from a planter into the normal drains or it could be diverted further into a Rain Garden.

For an enhanced biophilic and aesthetic effect, we like to encourage the construction of landscaped features that the water could travel along and slowly percolate into the soil, such as an attractively constructed rill, gulley or channel into a garden bed, as in the example below.


Mailing List

Contact Us
Send us your requirements - Click HERE
01752 822782
0781 279 7127
[email protected]

Blog Read Our Blog

Mailing List

Unsuccessful - please try again

Thank You

Thanks for subscribing to our mailing list.

Online - Start Chat?

Your name *