First ‘rain gardens’ planted in Portsmouth

People living and working in North End will soon benefit from greener streets and more sustainable drainage, as the first rain gardens in the city have been installed by Portsmouth City Council on London Road.

These will fight climate change by providing water an area to soak into during or after heavy rain.

When rain falls, it will drain towards plants which have been selected to absorb heavy watering. Any excess water will then drain into pipes running underneath the path to provide a natural and re-used flow of water. Water is then naturally filtered back into the water supply, reducing local flooding.

The plants also make the area look nicer, help improve the quality of air and give insects and birds sources of food.

The rain gardens are protected by small kerbs and are placed in two locations on the wide pavement either side of the crossing on London Road. One is near to the Lidl supermarket, while the other is outside the Subway. Each rain garden is 5m x 1.5m – about the length of a small car.

Portsmouth is likely to continue receiving lengthy periods of dry weather followed by heavy downpours, as has been seen in 2022. Installing rain gardens like these is a strong example of how the council is taking positive action to tackle climate change.

Cllr Lee Hunt, cabinet member for Planning Policy and City Development said: “Putting these new rain gardens in place on London Road shows how we’re putting sustainability at the forefront of our plans to improve the city. They’re a smart way to drain heavy rainwater, give wildlife a habitat and even make the area look and feel nicer. I look forward to seeing more of these rain gardens across Portsmouth soon.”

The work was completed by Colas over two weeks with minimal disruption to the local area. Plants were selected from a range of species that thrive on lots of water, including Lamb’s Ear, New Zealand Wind Grass, and Switchgrass.

Cllr Kimberly Barrett, cabinet member for Climate Change and Environment said: “I’m pleased to see Portsmouth’s first rain gardens planted in North End. Climate change is an important and complex challenge to our society, so anything that we can do to improve how we do things more sustainably is welcomed. Installing things like rain gardens show how we’re tackling the challenges of climate change in real, practical ways.”

People will be able to see the rain gardens in place now, and they’ll be weeded and looked after by council staff over the next year. Other rain gardens are planned across various locations in Portsmouth to help with absorbing rainwater and improving local areas.