Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Water Resources Program]

Rain Gardens

New Jersey Demonstration Rain Gardens ~
Summit Library


Summit Library

75 Maple Street, Summit, Union County, New Jersey 07901

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 Summit Library rain gardens were installed to capture, treat, and infiltrate stormwater runoff from a portion of the library’s roof via two redirected downspouts.

The potential to install a rain garden at Summit Library 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 where green infrastructure could be installed. 

The rain gardens were designed by Tobiah Horton, Assistant Extension Specialist in Landscape Architecture. The Summit Environmental Commission supported the project, and the Department of Community Services was instrumental in having the site excavated.  The location of the rain gardens is ideal to demonstrate to local residents how a rain garden can enhance their property.

  Type of Runoff Managed:

These rain gardens manage stormwater runoff from a portion of the library roof through two downspouts which were disconnected and redirected into the rain gardens via trenches.


These rain gardens were installed in June 2016 by Tobiah Horton and the RCE Water Resources Program staff and interns.  An excavator was used by a subcontractor, paid for by the City of Summit, to dig out the rain gardens.  The sod was removed from the rain garden footprint, and the native soil was removed.  Approximately 26 tons of bioretention soil was added to the base of the rain gardens to promote infiltration.  Next a three-inch layer of shredded hardwood mulch was added to thwart weeds and retain moisture, leaving a six-inch open ponding area.  The inlets were made by disconnecting the downspouts from the storm sewer system.  Two trenches were dug in which PVC pipe was laid, and fittings were added to connect the PVC pipe to the existing downspouts.  The trenches are sloped at an angle to allow the runoff from the downspouts to enter the rain gardens.  The native plants used in these rain gardens were installed under the direction of Tobiah Horton, the RCE Water Resources Program staff, and interns.  The plants were purchased from Plant Detectives, Pinelands Nursery & Supply, and New Moon Nursery

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 Summit Library design plan

    Rain Garden Parameters:

Front rain garden size - 220 square feet (annual runoff volume captured - 22,929 gallons)
Drainage area - 376 square feet

Side rain garden size - 175 square feet (annual runoff volume captured - 18,239 gallons)
Drainage area - 680 square feet

    Plant List:

Blue Flag Iris
Cardinal Flower
Cinnamon Fern
Marginal Wood Fern
New England Aster
Pennsylvania Sedge
Soft Rush
Swamp Azalea


These rain gardens are currently maintained by the RCE Water Resources Program.


  Click here for photographs of the Summit Library rain gardens.