Case Studies

Since 2007, Ohio River Foundation has led the design and installation of community rain gardens in Ohio and Kentucky. In addition to the examples below, ORF has also designed and installed stormwater rain gardens in Louisville, and other locations in the tri-state. As of January 2014, ORF has more than 7 community gardens in service covering more than 11,000 square feet, capturing and filtering more than 10 million gallons of stormwater every year!

Northern Kentucky University

October 2009 - Ohio River Foundation and staff of Facilities Management at Northern Kentucky University designed and installed a 1,500 sq. ft. rain garden between the Arts & Sciences Building, sidewalks, and parking lot.  It was decided to experiment by using an existing sewer grate as the overflow and situating the garden around the grate.  To slow flow directly into the sewer and permit stormwater retention and drainage by the garden it is surrounded by large rocks.   Funding was provided by Aveda, Inc.

Cincinnati Zoo

Summer 2008 - Ohio River Foundation (ORF) and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden have completed the installation of 4,000 square feet of rain gardens at the Zoo’s Harold C. Schott Education Center. This is the largest rain garden installation on any property in the tri-state area. Funding for the project was provided by Aveda, Inc. and Hamilton County Stormwater District.

Completed in stages during the summer, staff and volunteers from ORF, the Zoo, and Aveda raked, tilled and planted the rain gardens which are designed to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution entering the Metropolitan Sewer District sewer system. The gardens receive water from redirected downspouts from the Education Center and parking lot runoff.

“We are excited by the opportunity to partner with the Zoo on this important project. This is one of several high visibility rain garden installations that we are planning in the Ohio River watershed to spur development of community stormwater pollution reduction programs,” said Rich Cogen, Executive Director, ORF.

Multi-cell rain garden receives direct rainfall and also runoff from building (to the right in photo) via redirected downspouts.

Zoo and Ohio River Foundation staff members work on rain garden that receives rainwater runoff from the parking lot via several 2-foot wide curb cuts.


November 2007 - Ohio River Foundation, Cincinnati Park Board, and National City Bank completed the installation of a 500 sq. ft. rain garden in Eden Park at the Martin Road field below the reservoir. The goal is to capture flow from a 10-acre ball field before it enters a parking lot and storm sewer system. Due to the approximate 1% grade, compact clay soils, and slow flows from the field a shallow garden of only 18 inches was constructed. Runoff from the field has been noticeably reduced and lower flow volumes into the parking lot during and after rain events has been observed.

Eden Park
ORF, National City Bank, and Cincinnati Park staff and volunteers stage and install rain garden plants.