Rain Gardens in Washtenaw

Plant a rain garden on your property with help from the Washtenaw County Rain Garden Assistance Program. Or, train to design rain gardens yourself by becoming a Master Rain Gardener, and spread the word about the benefits of rain gardens.

Jessen Rain Garden spring 2012What are Rain Gardens?

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

When it rains, a rain garden captures the runoff from a roof or driveway.   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.   

Rain Garden Design Assistance Program

harry and francineThe 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.  The result is residents all over the county are happy with their new gardens, while the Huron River receives less fertilizers, chemicals and other harmful runoff.  For a site visit to your property in Washtenaw County, contact our Rain Gardens Coordinator, Susan Bryan at bryans@ewashtenaw.org.

The rain gardens planted through this program are capable of capturing 60,000 gallons of water - an inch of rainfall. 


Master Rain Gardener ProgramSally Richie's Rain Garden 2012

Master Rain Gardeners are volunteers who have earned their Master Rain Gardener certificate - trained in designing and installing rain gardens.  They help out friends and neighbors to learn about, design and plant rain gardens.  Visit the Master Rain Gardener Hall of Fame (photos).  Recognize them by their Master Rain Gardener t-shirts! and by the raindrops hanging from their nametags!  List of Master Rain Gardener certificate holders.


How Can I Participate?

  • Install a rain garden in your yard.  A stormwater rate credit is available for gardens constructed within the City of Ann Arbor.  
  • Train as a Master Rain Gardener, and become a volunteer resource for your neighborhood.
  • Get Help. If you’re interested in getting help with the design and implementation of a rain garden on your property, or would like to learn more about this effort and how you can become involved, contact our Rain Gardens Coordinator, Susan Bryan at bryans@ewashtenaw.org or 734-730-9025.
  • Hire help.  If you are looking for a landscape contractor or professional gardener to implement your rain garden for you, here is a list of qualified contractors.
  • Visit our Rain Garden Events page to see this year's volunteer days and plant order dates.
  • Laugh.  Check out "I was a Teenage Raindrop" for some rain garden humor by David Zinn.

Where can I see Rain Gardens in action?
"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

Rain Garden How-to Manuals

Center for Watershed Protection - How to Install a Rain Garden (1 page)

Central Ohio - Rain Garden Manual for Homeowners

 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Rain Gardens

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Rain Garden Manual 

Vermont Rain Gardening Manual:  "Gardening to Absorb the Storm"

Natural Resources Conservation Service, Backyard Conservation

Matthaei Botanical Gardens - Stewardship At Home 

Michigan Natural Shorelines Professional - training

 Program History

Washtenaw County’s Rain Garden Program began in 2005 with MDEQ grant funding.  We have worked with homeowners to plan, design, and install over 105 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)

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