Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Todd Barkman

Second Advisor

Lisa Dechano-Cook

Third Advisor

Steve Bertman


In the modern world impervious surfaces, especially in urban areas, abound. These include roads, highways, sidewalks, parking lots, and roofs that have replaced permeable surfaces, mainly open land, forests, and wetlands. Rainwater runs off of these surfaces collecting pollutants on its way to permeable areas. Rain gardens collect and process rainwater. Native plants with deep root systems process large volumes of rainwater and the microorganisms living in the soils and roots can process pollutants. The purpose of my research was to find out what variables affect species presence or absence in rain gardens. Species presence or absence at the time of survey was compared to the species composition when planted. Species presence was analyzed relative to 1) coefficient of wetness, 2) cost of the rain garden, and 3) soil type. My research on rain gardens involved the evaluation of these three variables of interest in three existing rain gardens in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area installed by the Grand Valley Metro Council (GVMC) and the installation of my own rain garden in Alaska, Michigan. In the end, my research could be defined as a descriptive pilot study and outlines future research that could be done on rain gardens evaluating the variables I have identified.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Honors Thesis Rain Garden Presentation.pdf (4188 kB)
Defense Presentation