Have you heard the term “bioswale” before? If so, have you ever wondered what the difference is between a bioswale and a rain garden? Engineers and landscape architects use the terms “bioswale” and “rain garden” to describe certain types of green infrastructure that are designed to manage rainwater runoff by mimicking nature.
A bioswale is a long channel or trench that has vegetation (such as grasses, flowers, and shrubs) and soil, mulch, or stones to slow down rainwater and filter out pollutants. These pollutants include things like litter, motor oil, and excess fertilizer from lawns. The prefix “bio” refers to the living vegetation, while the root word “swale” means a low or hollow place that is often wet.
A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape planted with vegetation and designed to collect rainwater, filter out pollutants, and soak the water into the ground. Residents can create simple rain gardens in their yards to help reduce flooding and river pollution.
Although they sound similar, bioswales are designed to slow down rainwater through a curving or linear path, while rain gardens are designed to capture, store, and infiltrate rainwater in a bowl shape.