Plants for stormwater design

Plants for Stormwater Design Book CoverUrban landscape designers, installation practitioners, and stormwater managers will find this a useful resource. Understanding plant species’ susceptibility to water-level fluctuations and landscape pollutants will enable better stormwater detention treatment and aesthetically pleasing systems.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff worked with the authors, Daniel Shaw and Rusty Schmidt, to produce this valuable reference. The goal is to improve stormwater treatment and management practices by using native plants.


PDF icon Section 1: Table of contents; acknowledgements; intro; using guide; environmental influences on plants; plant considerations and species for stormwater management practices; stormwater management practices; literature cited. (File size = 1.7 MB)

PDF icon Section 2: Table of plant species included in guide; range of applicability map; plant species descriptions, genera A–E. (File size = 3.1 MB)

PDF icon Section 3: Plant species descriptions, genera F-S. (File size = 3 MB)

PDF icon Section 4: Plant species descriptions, genera T-Z; plant descriptions bibliography; appendix 1: planting and maintenance recommendations; appendix 2: vegetation and hydrology data for 3 Twin Cities stormwater projects. (File size = 1.8 MB)


Information on 131 plant species regarding their use in stormwater-management practices:

  • habitat and range
  • light exposure needs
  • normal water level
  • flooding/fluctuation tolerances
  • general pollution sensitivities and tolerances
  • design considerations
  • wildlife use
  • nursery stock and seed availability
  • recommended planting techniques
  • photograph

A hydrograph is included for each species, showing the typical depth and duration of inundation that species can tolerate. Species recommendations are provided also for several stormwater best management practices, including dry detention basins or swales; rainwater gardens and similar infiltration basins; stormwater wetlands; wet swales; and filtration strips.

Information and assistance

MPCA no longer has printed copies of this publications. Hard copies may be available through interlibrary loan.

Binary Data Plants for stormwater design: Order form

Printed copies of "Plants for Stormwater Design Species Selection for the Upper Midwest" (1997) by Daniel Shaw and Rusty Schmidt, originally published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, are available for purchase ($39.50) from the University of Minnesota.

Visit the Stormwater Program webpage for additional resources or questions about stormwater regulations. 

If you have questions about the manual, contact Mark Gernes at 651-757-2387.