The City of Cocoa Beach has implemented low impact development (LID) features in the downtown area that not only beautify the streetscape, but also collect and direct stormwater through a series of natural filtration systems. One of the many LID features in the downtown area is a series of 29 roadside rain gardens. Stormwater from the adjacent streets flows into the rain gardens through curb cuts. Once collected in the rain garden, stormwater is naturally filtered by a number of Florida-Friendly plants before slowly percolating through pine straw or gravel — and in some cases bioadsorption media (BAM) — and into the ground. These rain gardens have shown to reduce stormwater nutrient loads in the downtown area by up to 74%. Utilizing natural filtration systems, such as rain gardens, is an effective way to remove excess nutrients and pollutants from stormwater before it enters surrounding water bodies like the Indian River Lagoon.
Selecting the right plants for rain gardens is very important. Rain gardens are designed to collect large volumes of stormwater, but are not meant to contain standing water after a storm event. Therefore, choosing Florida-Friendly plants that are accustomed to withstanding heavy rainfall and extended dry periods is essential for a successful rain garden. It is also important to plan for different areas within a rain garden to collect more water than others. Choosing plants that are able to withstand occasional to frequent inundation for lower-lying areas of the rain garden that usually flood during small rain events is recommended. Drought-tolerant plants are ideal for areas that are only inundated during heavy rainfall events. A few other things to consider when planning a rain garden, depending on the rain garden’s location, are the plants’ salt tolerance and sun/shade preference.
Rain gardens are also a great feature to add to your yard! Not sure where to start?
Have you noticed spots in your yard that seem to collect water naturally? This may be a good space to implement a rain garden. No puddles in your lawn? Consider a rain garden to catch runoff from your roof, driveway, or patio before it flows into the street. Are you ready to start planning your rain garden? Check out this Rain Garden How-To Manual.
Cocoa Beach Downtown LID Rain Gardens Plant List
Common Name (Scientific Name)
Carolina Petunia (Ruellia carolineinsis)
Clusia rosea (dwarf) (Clusia major)
Coontie Palm (Zamia pumila)
Croton Petra (Codiaeum variegatum)
Firebush (dwarf) (Hamelia patens)
Frog Fruit (Phyla nodiflora)
Indian Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella)
Jungle Flame (Ixora coccinea)
Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Sea Oxeye Daisy (Borrichia frutenscens)
Sea Purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum)
Silver Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus)
Sky Flower (Duranta repens)
Spider Lilly (Hymenocallis littoralis)
Stalked Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens)
Yaupon Holly (dwarf) (Ilex vomitoria)