Rain Garden Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

There are things we can all do to promote water and soil conservation. With this lesson plan, your students will learn about the importance of rain gardens and how to implement them.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the role of rain gardens in water and soil conservation
  • Describe the fundamental traits and needs of a rain garden
  • Design a rain garden relative to the specific needs of a location, considering climate, topography, and native vegetation


90-120 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • HS-ESS2-5: Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
  • HS-ESS3-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • HS- ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural system



  • Start the class with a discussion about conservation.
    • What are some of the risks associated with the continual warming of the global climate? As the climate warms and interior parts of many continents face the increased risks of droughts, what are some things people can do to conserve water?
  • Distribute copies of the lesson What is a Rain Garden? - Design, Benefits & Plants.
  • Divide the class into groups. Students will read this lesson in their groups, with one student reading aloud at a time, switching every paragraph.
  • Using this method, ask students to read the sections What is A Rain Garden? and How Do You Design a Rain Garden? Discuss this information.
    • What is the goal of a rain garden? Why is it better to capture rainwater in a garden than to let it run into storm drains?
    • How do rain gardens balance practical and aesthetic needs? How do you think rain gardens would differ in different climates? Where is this system most useful?
    • How do rain gardens help prevent erosion? Why is this important?
  • Have students continue to read the lesson in their groups, completing the remaining sections. Discuss this information.
    • Why is it important to use native plants in conservation-minded gardening? How are native plants well suited to rain gardens in particular?
    • Why does it matter how you arrange the plants in a rain garden?
  • Write the following scenarios on the board, and ask students to write down their predictions about what would happen to the plants in each scenario. After they've had a chance to work on this, discuss the answers.
    • Deep-rooted/water-loving plants on the outside, shallow-rooted plants in the center (Answer: Plants in the center won't get enough water and will die)
    • Shallow-rooted plants that don't absorb much water on outside and center of the garden (Answer: Garden is likely to flood and erode since water isn't being absorbed)
    • Plants that need lots of water, planted in an area that has long dry seasons (Answer: Plants will likely die before rainy season return)
    • Plants with deep roots, in a garden with hard, non-porous soil (Answer: Moisture may not penetrate the soil to the depths of the roots)
  • You may test student understanding with the lesson quiz.

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