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Online Master Rain Gardener Certification

Welcome to the Online Master Rain Gardener resources website! Everything you need to participate in class will be posted here.

Class Details

MRG LogoMeet virtually Friday lunchtimes 12:00-1:30pm July 14 - August 18, 2017  (No class August 11).  Did you miss the class?  It is ok - take the class at your own pace by following the syllabus below, and watching the class videos on YouTube. 

Let me know you if you are taking the class self-paced!  Then, when you are done, I can give you your certificate and Master Rain Gardener t-shirt.  Just send a note: bryans@ewashtenaw.org.

There will be homework, and class discussion will be held on an online forum, with flexible hours.  So even if you have a day job – you can take this class!

Plan on some homework  - getting outside and measuring and drawing.  Get personal feedback on your site selection and plants via the forum or facebook group. 

Feedback Forum:  We will be using a forum for class discussion and feedback:  either the Houzz GardenWeb,   Or our Facebook Group.  Choose one to join, and post there to get feedback from instructors, classmates, and Master Rain Gardener alumni.

If you have questions, you can always e-mail Susan Bryan at bryans@ewashtenaw.org.  

Field Trips - pick the one closest to you! (optional)

Tipton:  Friday, August 11th, 2017 noon-1:00 pm. At Hidden Lake Gardens, 6214 Monroe Rd, Tipton, MI 49287.  Hidden Lake Gardens, a botanical garden and arboretum operated by Michigan state University, will be hosting the webinar portions of this class for people to attend in-person.  So if listening by yourself at your computer doesn’t fit your learning style, feel free to attend the class there.  They will be visiting the rain garden located right in front of the main building during class.  Hosted by Paul Pfeifer of Hidden Lake Gardens.

Ann Arbor:  Sunday July 16, 2017 2:00-3:30pm  at 1526 Hanover Ct., Ann Arbor, MI 48103.  The home of Master Rain Gardener Leslie Kellman - where we’ll visit her 2 rain gardens! Hosted by Susan Bryan of the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office.

Flint: Visit the the rain garden in the park on the corner of Lewis street and Leith St, Flint, MI. Hosted by Jef Johnson of the Genesee County Conservation District, and Sondra Severn of the Flint River Watershed Coalition. Contact Jef Johnson at jeffrey.johnson@macd.org to set up a time.

Grand Rapids: Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 6:00-7:00PM at CS Tool Engineering Inc., 251 W Cherry St, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. This is a rain garden that Trout Unlimited helped install. Hosted by Nichol DeMol of Trout Unlimited & partners.

Kalamazoo: Thursday, July 20th, 6:00 - 8:30 PMMeet at Riverview Launch (1523 Riverview Drive, Kalamazoo 49004) Participants have an option of riding on the bus tour which will take us to garden locations in Kalamazoo and Portage, or bring your bicycle. Presented by: Common Grounds Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Master Gardeners, Kalamazoo County Land Bank, and the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council. Host: Jamie McCarthy

EVERYONE WELCOME as we visit Wildtype NurserySunday August 27th, 2017, 12:30-3:00. 900 N Every Rd, Mason, MI 48854. Near Lansing. Owner Bill Schneider will be giving us a personal tour, showing us plants appropriate for rain gardens. Visit and shop at the premier native plant nursery in Michigan!

  Class Handouts

  • COURSEPACK - A how-to manual on how to build a rain garden.  Also, more resources. -  (.pdf)
    MRG CP front page
  • Feedback Forum:  We will be using a forum for class discussion and feedback:  either the Houzz GardenWeb,   Or our Facebook Group.  Choose one to join, and post there to get feedback from instructors, classmates, and Master Rain Gardener alumni.
  • To join the Houzz GardenWeb, make a profile for yourself by clicking HERE. Make a profile for yourself, (ignore the preferences questions), and then edit your profile so you like your screen name and add a pic. E-mail me your screen name - so I know which screen name goes with which student.  Our forum is titled Great Lakes Gardening. Post photos of your site, your plant selections, and join discussions about plant swaps, etc. 
  • To join the Facebook Group, click on the Master Rain Gardener Group link, and ask to join.  When you are approved, you can post photos of your site, your plant selections, and join discussions about plant swaps, etc. 
  • As part of the MDEQ grant that made this class FREE, the MDEQ wants us to administer this survey before and after the class.  So as a token of your appreciation, please take 10 minutes to fill it out: RainGardenSurvey   (In the first box, put WEBINAR.)
  • Detailed Plant List (.pdf).  Rain Garden "Top 20" plant list - see page 25 of the Coursepack.

Class 1: "What & Why" - Introduction & a Rain Garden Tour 

Class 1 Video Recording HERE. If you register, than I'l know you are in the class.  Or, just watch on YouTube.

Homework:                 

  • Start thinking where you will build your rain garden.  It can be your own yard, or a willing friend's.
  • Take photos of the area (or potential areas).
  • Start a new thread on the GardenWeb forum, or Facebook group, and post the photos of your site there.  Start a new thread and post your photos. Explain what is going on in your site. Do you have basement flooding? Are you solving a problem of some kind? What is the source of the runoff water? (roof, driveway, patio, etc.) Do you have other needs in this space (sports, views out windows, etc.)
  • Read pages 3, 10-12 & 22-24  of the coursepack.
  • Take Quiz #1.

CLASS 2: Where to Put It and How to Size It

Listen to the recording of class 2 HERE. or view it on YouTube here.

Homework:

  • If you revised your rain garden location, take another picture and post it on the GardenWeb Forum or the Facebook Group, in the thread you started.
  • Do a percolation test in the spot where you are planning the rain garden. (Dig a 18” deep hole and fill it with water. Wait for it to soak in. Fill it again. Note the time it takes to soak into the ground.)
  • Measure the approximate roof/ impervious-area that will feed the garden. (Coursepack p.14)
  • Calculate the approximate roof area that will feed the garden (20% of the size of the roof.)
  • Read pages 13 (measuring section), and 15-20 (sample designs) of the coursepack
  • .Post your percolation rate and your roof area on the forum, or FB group, in the thread you started.
  • Watch this video on digging a rain garden.
  • Take Quiz #2:  

CLASS 3: "How" - Planning and Digging

Listen to the recording of Class 3 HERE. or on YouTube here.

Homework:

  • Measure your outdoor space using the methods outlined in class and described on page 13 of the coursepack.
  • Draw up a base sheet on graph paper (1 square=1 foot), mapping the house location, and any fences, trees, etc., that are relevant.
  • Draw up a few tentative rain garden shapes on the base plan.
  • Think of some plants that you would like to try in the rain garden.  Post them on the forum or FB group, in your thread.
  • Post your base sheet on the forum or FB group in your thread by Monday morning.
  • Quiz #3

CLASS 4:  Planting Design:  The rain garden plant palette

Listen to the recording of Class 4 HERE. or on YouTube here

For an extra episode where we answer student questions, tune in here, and on YouTube here.

Homework:

  • Draw your rain garden design on your base sheet.
  • Draw the outline of the garden; the bottom; the berm; the cut edge.  Make sure bottom is big enough.  Does the number of squares (square feet) in the bottom correspond to the number of square feet you calculated you would need?  If not, take the relatively more wet, or dry, conditions into account as you pick plants.
  • Draw the water conveyance (pipe, or overland flow).
  • Draw in individual, or areas for specific plants.  List the plant palette you will be using.
  • Post your plan, plant list and photo of site on the forum, or Facebook group, in your thread.  If you draw it with pencil, just take a digital photo of it and post.  Or you could use the digital drawing tool of your choice.
  • Rain Garden Plant List – the Official “Rain Garden Plants that Will Not Fail” List, vetted by us (Shannan and Susan)

    For more experienced gardeners choose from:   Rain Garden Complete Plant List. Try out some in the “Plants to Try” section!

    For new gardeners: The Rain Garden "Top 20" plant list - see page 25 of the Coursepack

  • Here is a search engine by our own Native Plant Nursery of Ann Arbor, which conveniently only lists local genotype native plants - which support our local wildlife.  Note that you can pick "Show Plants for: Rain Garden", and also height, light, etc.  It can narrow down your choices.

  • Where to Buy Native Plants:  Native Plant Producer's Association. List of producers of native plant species, grown from wild-collected seed. 

CLASS 5:  Presentation of Final Rain Garden Designs

Listen to the recording of Class 5 HERE. Or on YouTube here.

  • Everyone should "present" their final designs on the forum or Facebook group.  We'll pick a few to go over in detail during class. 
  • We will especially focus on plant combinations and making it beautiful.  So bring your suggestions!  We will collaborate as a class.

GOING FORWARD:  Dig and Plant your Rain Garden!

  • Dig it yourself, or recruit help.Bling for Master Rain Gardeners
  • Check out the Michigan Native Plant Producer's Association for sources of native plants.  Frequent your local nursery.  Divide up perennials in your garden to put in your rain garden, or ask a friend to share.  
  • Incorporate compost in, and mulch.
  • Watch it grow!  Watch it absorb water when it rains.
  • Post photos of your finished garden on the forum, and bask in the compliments of your fellow MRGers.
  • Send a note to Susan Bryan bryans@ewashtenaw.org, so she can add your garden to her official map - and send you an official t-shirt! 
  • Congratulations - you are a certified Master Rain Gardener!

GIVING BACK:  Become a leader and a resource for your community 

  • Help out newbie Master Rain Gardeners-in-training on the forum, in the Facebook group, or in your neighborhood.
  • Document your rain garden in some cool way that we could share online.  YouTube? Stop motion photography?  Be creative!
  • Share your rain garden:  have a garden party where you show off your rain garden.  Put your garden on a local garden tour.  Invite a local garden club.
  • Share with the next generation:  help a scout build a rain garden as a project.  Help your local elementary school put one in.
  • Lead the maintenance of a public rain garden.  There are many rain gardens in parks or in front of public buildings that need some love.  Weed them, or better yet lead a weeding work day so others learn about their value. Contact Catie Wytychak for opportunities in Ann Arbor wytychakc@ewashtenaw.org.
  • Send Susan a note about your activities so she can celebrate your success.  And you might be selected for one of the Master Rain Gardener Leadership Awards!  

Discussion Forum Details

We will be using an online platform for discussion, and so you can post photos of your yard.  Instructors, fellow Master Rain Gardener students, and also MRG alumni will give you individual feedback.  Share your site selection, your plan and your plant choices, and we'll discuss.  You will get a lot of advice, feel free to take it or not!

There are two options for participating in class discussion, and getting approval of your rain garden site, plan, and completion (so you can collect your Master Rain Gardener t-shirt!)  Select one you feel comfortable in, and post there.

One is the Facebook Group - Master Rain Gardeners.  Request to join, and wait to be approved.

The other is the Houzz GardenWeb.    To create a profile so you can post, follow the directions below.

  1. To join the Houzz GardenWeb, make a profile for yourself by clicking HERE. Make a profile for yourself, pick "homeowner',  pick your preferences if you like (it doesn't matter), and then edit your profile so you like your screen name and add a pic.
  2. E-mail me your screen name - so I know which screen name goes with which student.  Our forum is titled Great Lakes Gardening.  Post photos of your site, your plant selections, and join discussions about plant swaps, etc.
  3. Start a thread by naming it. (Example title: “Backyard rain garden”) Post your homework here – all in the same thread.  Start by posting the photos of where you are considering putting a rain garden.  Then post your design, your flower choices, all in the same thread.  You will get feedback from me, and other Master Rain Gardeners here.

Funding

MDEQ Logo

EPA logoThis NPS Pollution Control project has been funded wholly or in part through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement 2014-0010 to Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office for the Rain Garden University project. The contents of the document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the United States Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Environmental Quality, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

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