Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Water Resources Program]

Rain Gardens

New Jersey Demonstration Rain Gardens ~
Governor Livingston High School



Governor Livingston High School
175 Watchung Avenue, Berkeley Heights, Union County, New Jersey 07922

Google (TM) Map Site Contact(s) History Runoff Managed
Installation Plant Layout Maintenance Photographs


    Site Contact(s):

Sara Mellor, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program


The Governor Livingston High School rain gardens were installed to intercept, treat, and infiltrate stormwater runoff from a portion of the school's adjacent parking lot.

The potential to install a rain garden at Governor Livingston High School was identified through site assessments that were conducted as part of a grant the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program received: “National Fish and Wildlife Foundation ~ Incorporating Green Infrastructure resiliency in the Raritan River Basin”.  A deliverable for the grant included visiting 54 towns within the Raritan River Basin, and identifying locations were green infrastructure could be installed.  When meeting with members from the Berkeley Heights Board of Education about installing rain gardens at their schools they suggested for us to reach out to a science teacher at the high school who was able to help get the rain garden designs approved.  The science teacher now includes education and maintenance about rain gardens in her Environmental Science curriculum providing students with a hands on learning experience.

 Type of Runoff Managed:

These rain gardens manage stormwater runoff from a portion of the school’s parking lot through curb cuts that direct water to enter a trench drains and flow down river stone channels into the rain gardens.


These rain gardens were installed in August 2016 by Enviroscapes Inc.  An excavator was used to dig out the rain gardens.  The sod was removed from the rain garden footprint. Then 21 inches of the native soil was removed, and a 12-inch-thick layer of bioretention soil was added to the base of the rain garden to promote infiltration. Next a three-inch layer of shredded hardwood mulch was added to thwart weeds and retain moisture, leaving a six-inch ponding area. The inlets were made up of two curb cuts and two trench drains at the curb cuts to allow stormwater from the parking lot to enter the rain gardens.  Adjacent to the trench drains river rock was placed in gabion baskets to slow the velocity of water entering the rain gardens. An overflow between the two rain gardens was made up of additional river stone, as well as an overflow at the bottom of one of the cells. The native plants used in this rain garden were installed by RCE Water Resources Program staff, the chair of the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission, and students from the high school. The plants were purchased from Plant Detectives

Funding for this project is provided by the Department of the Interior through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program.

    Plant Layout:

    Rain Garden Map:  

Click here for the Governor Livingston High School design plan.

    Rain Garden Parameters:

Rain garden #1 size - 385 square feet (annual runoff volume captured - 40,125  gallons)
Rain garden #1 size - 875 square feet (annual runoff volume captured - 91,194  gallons)
Drainage area - 7,650 square feet

    Plant List:

          Butterfly Milkweed
          Cardinal Flower
          Inkberry Holly
          Little Bluestem
          Orange Coneflower
          Purple Coneflower
          Soft Rush
          Virginia Sweetspire


    The rain garden is maintained by the faculty and students at Governor Livingston  
    High School.


    Click here for photographs of the Governor Livingston High School rain gardens.