Rain Gardens

Four gardeners in a fieldRain gardens capture storm water runoff before it pollutes our local rivers while providing beautiful garden scapes throughout the growing season.

Learn how to design your own rain garden by taking our Master Rain Gardener Certification class.  You can also plant a rain garden on your property with technical advice from the Washtenaw County Rain Garden staff. Volunteering is another way to get involved and help take care of rain gardens in parks around town.

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Design Your Own Rain Garden

Train to be a Master RAIN Gardener! Learn to design and install your own rain garden and be the rain garden expert in your neighborhood. Master Rain Gardeners help friends and neighbors to learn about, design and plant rain gardens. Earn your certificate by taking the class and building a rain garden. Recognize Master Rain Gardeners by their Master Rain Gardener t-shirts!

Get Some Advice on Your Rain Garden

Jessen garden 5-7-12 3 years old Opens in new windowOur office offers personalized design advice to homeowner whom then build the rain garden themselves. These gardens result in fewer fertilizers, chemicals, and other harmful runoff into the Huron River while providing joy to homeowners all over the county. The rain gardens planted through this program are capable of capturing 2 million gallons of water - an inch of rainfall. Schedule a site visit: Susan Bryan, Rain Garden Coordinator.


Miller 2016 Jonathan Parker Cathy Dyer Della Diehr Dorothy YenniVolunteer 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.

About Rain Gardens

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. Captured water 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. Before it does, it keeps the garden looking green and lush.

A rain garden is an attractive landscaping feature planted with perennial native plants. It is a bowl-shaped or saucer-shaped garden, designed to absorb storm water run-off from impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots. Rain gardens can be small home-owner style gardens, large complex gardens, or anywhere in between.

City of Ann Arbor Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The City of Ann Arbor owns over 100 green stormwater infrastructure features, such as rain gardens, wetlands, bio-retention basins, and bio-swales. These features capture, store and clean stormwater. Since 2015, the Water Resources Commissioner's Office has collaborated to maintain and care for the public rain gardens. 

Through volunteers, contractors and shared projects across departments, we have been caring for the 30 acres of green stormwater infrastructure. To maintain the gardens, we do controlled burns, remove invasive species, clean out sediment from inlets, collect native seeds, plant, and transplant vegetation. 

To learn more about the cost to maintain green infrastructure, see this snapshot from 2017 and 2018: Annual Green Infrastructure Maintenance Costs

Rain Gardens in the News

Washtenaw County’s Rain Garden Program began in 2005 with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality 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.