Go Green at Home

Bioswales on the move

Bioswales are open, vegetated channels planted with grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees.


Similar to rain gardens, bioswales let rainwater absorb into the ground to reduce stormwater runoff.  Unlike rain gardens, bioswales are designed to move water through an area.  Bioswales can function similar to ditches, channels, or street gutters, but the substrate, vegetation, and shape help slow the water down and let some absorb into the soil.  

Native vegetation planted in an open channel are more attractive than ditches or concrete channels.  Bioswales can also be planted with turf grass or a rocky dry streambed when the situation calls for it.  They are usually shallow and wide, slowing the flow of water and allowing it to soak into the groundwater system rather than staying on the surface.  Water is also captured by the plants themselves and used in plant growth.  Less stormwater runoff means less stress on our infrastructure and less polluted water entering the Wabash River!

Bioswale Maintenance

Native Plants in rain gardens and bioswales are resistant to the Indiana climate and require no fertilizers or other chemicals, these practices still need to be maintained so that the native plants can flourish and absorb stormwater.


  • Add new plants to garden. 
  • Start weeding. Weeding is crucial early in the season. Gardens should be weeded about once a week to prevent the weeds from establishing. 
  • If the project was just installed, water your garden 1-2 times a week if there is no rain in the forecast. 


Weed garden once a week. 

  • Rain gardens and bioswales do not need to be watered unless the plants were just planted this year. If conditions are very dry, water as needed. 
  • Leaves can be left in garden, they will break down into soil if left over winter. 
  • If you want to clean your garden a bit, cut plants down to about 6 inches. 

Urban Street Design Guide for Bio-swales

A virtual tour of the bio-swales at Purdue

Highlights of local bioswales: