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Rain Gardens in Washtenaw County

Learn how to design your own rain garden by taking our Master Rain Gardener Certification class. Or plant a rain garden on your property with technical advice from the Washtenaw County Rain Garden staff. Volunteer in a public rain garden by joining a workday or becoming a steward. As a rain gardener, or Master Rain Gardener, you can become your neighborhood's expert and spread the word about the benefits of rain gardens.

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Rain Gardens

Rain gardens capture stormwater runoff before it pollutes our local rivers - while providing beautiful gardenscapes throughout the growing season.

Mother earth creates the rain - but we create the runoff. When rain hits the roofs, streets and driveways of our neighborhoods, it washes pollution into the river. A rain garden captures the rain water runoff and filters it clean. 

One inch of rainfall means 600 gallons of water will be captured by a typical rain garden. This is water that won't go to municipal pipes, won't add pollution to the river, and won't contribute to flooding. This water will recharge the groundwater. But before it does, it keeps the garden looking green and lush. 


Master Rain Gardener Class

MRG Logo

Registration opens December 18th!  REGISTER HERE. Master Rain Gardeners earn their certificate by taking the class and building a rain garden. The class trains people to design and install rain gardens - and to serve as their neighborhood expert.  Master Rain Gardeners help friends and neighbors to learn about, design and plant rain gardens. Recognize them by their Master Rain Gardener t-shirts!

 Thurston Vol.


Winter Master Rain Gardener Class

The class will be January 17-February 14, 2018, 9:30am-12:30pm every Wednesday morning at 705 N Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Registration for 2018 class has not yet begun. Registration opens December 18, 2017.  It will be through the Ann Arbor Rec & Ed catalog.  Stay tuned!   

REGISTER for winter class

Summer Master Rain Gardener Class

Online Fridays during the lunch hour. The 2017 class is over, but you can take the class self-paced. Watch the videos and take the quizzes. Then drop Susan Bryan a line to tell her you are done and want your t-shirt! 
REGISTER for summer class  



Rain Garden Design Assistance for Homeowners
"The Washtenaw County Water Resources people were great ... For me, it was an easy choice ... an opportunity to experiment with a new way of gardening and help the environment."
-Fran Alexander, avid gardener & Allen Creekshed resident
"I get so much happiness looking at my rain gardens! Now instead of watching water flood my yard, I am watering my plants. So cool!"
-MRG class graduate

The Office of the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and staff work with several homeowners each year to design and install rain gardens on their property.  Our office offers a personalized visit and design advice - the homeowner builds the rain garden. The result is residents all over the county are happy with their new gardens, and the Huron River receives less fertilizers, chemicals and other harmful runoff. The rain gardens planted through this program are capable of capturing 60,000 gallons of water - an inch of rainfall.   

Schedule a Site Visit
Susan Bryan, Rain Garden Coordinator | 734-730-9025


Rain Garden Resources

Design & Installation





Rain Garden VolunteeringMadison

You can get involved in your neighborhood rain gardens by adopting a public rain garden, joining a workday or helping a nearby school on their schoolyard rain garden. If you have a group that would like to adopt a rain garden or organize a workday, we would be happy to coordinate!

      Catie Wytychak, Water Quality Specialist | 734-222-6813


Grants for Schoolyard Rain Gardens

Lawton StudentsIf you are creating a rain garden in a public space that will teach people about native plants and water quality, there are a few opportunities for grants.

Seeds for Education Grant Program - Wild Ones

   Due: mid October | Amount: $500

Wildflower Association of Michigan Educational Grant

   Due: end of the year | Amount: $1,000


Wet Basements

Some homeowners that seek rain garden help are experiencing wet or flooded basements and are looking for a way to reduce the amount of water that ends up inside their home. If you have rain water flowing towards your house, we can provide technical assistance to determine if a rain garden can help alleviate your problem. More information on the causes and solutions to wet basements can be found through the Kingston Utility

You may be able to solve the problem simply by clearing debris off the nearest catch basin, or storm drain. Make sure your downspouts are clear and any cracks in your foundation are repaired. If simple solutions do not solve your wet basement problem, then consider the grade of your yard. If your grade is sloping towards your house, then the area may need to be re-sloped because water will always follow gravity! A rain garden could alleviate your wet basement problems depending on the groundwater table and your property characteristics. Contact Susan Bryan, for more information. Learn more from WEMU's Issue of the Environment feature on Preventing Wet Basements by Daniel Long.

Program HistorySally Richie's Rain Garden 2012

Washtenaw County’s Rain Garden Program began in 2005 with MDEQ grant funding. We worked with homeowners to plan, design, and install over 350 rain gardens. Today, the program continues to assist homeowners in creating and installing rain gardens on their property.

Hear about it: WEMU Interview on the "Issues of the Environment" show

Read about it: Old West Side News article from April 2015

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