Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Coronavirus COVID-19

COVID-19 Advisory: WSU Extension is working to keep our communities safe. All Extension programming is being provided virtually, postponed, or canceled. Effective March 16, 2020, WSU Extension county offices and WSU Research & Extension Centers will be closed to the public. We are available via email, phone, and webconference.

Local Rain Gardens

Program Contact: Bob Simmons, Olympic Region Water Resources Specialist
(360) 379.5610 x 207 • simmons@wsu.edu

rgv_18 - Port

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a beautiful and effective way to clean polluted stormwater runoff, acting like a miniature native forest by collecting, absorbing, and filtering stormwater runoff from roof tops, driveways, patios, and other areas that don’t allow water to soak in.

They can be built at several scales and one may be just right for your home or neighborhood.
Rain Gardens are simply shallow depressions that:

  • Can be shaped and sized to fit your yard.
  • Use a special mix of sand and compost that allow water to soak in rapidly and supports healthy plant growth.
  • Can be landscaped with a variety of plants to fit the surroundings.

Why do we need rain gardens?

Stormwater is nothing but rainfall after it falls on the earth’s surface and travels across the landscape to a nearby stream or other water body. In landscapes that have been altered by humans, this stormwater picks up everything we humans leave behind – things like oil and gas, heavy metals, fertilizers, and animal waste.

Scientists have confirmed that stormwater is harmful to humans, animals, and fish that come in contact with it. Eventually stormwater makes its way to Puget Sound impairing the Sound’s water quality, impacting our shellfish and fisheries industry, and limiting recreational opportunities.

WSU research and experiments have shown that stormwater collected from highways around Puget Sound is lethal to fish. However, when that same stormwater was filtered through a special rain garden soil mix – the fish lived. Rain gardens can be a important tool in limiting the amount of contaminated water reaching our streams and Puget Sound.

How to build a rain garden

Congratulations for thinking of building a rain garden! A great first step is to watch this 5 minute video: Building a Rain Garden in the City and learn why, where and how to build a rain garden. Next, download the free  Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington. The handbook will help you design, install and maintain your rain garden. Be sure to check out where and where not to build your garden. Not every place is suitable.


Rain gardens in Jefferson County

 

Chetzemoka Park & 1st Security Bank

Thanks to the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee who helped fund and able build two rain gardens. in Port Townsend and Port Hadlock. City of Port Townsend staff provided lot of support.  A dozen volunteers helped plant the rain gardens and are now maintaining them.

45 students learned about train gardens and did some final planting and mulching.


Here is an article from the Peninsula Daily News a related to this work.

View the Port Townsend Leader Article about raingardens by the Jefferson County Courthouse, one by the Trinity Methodist Church, and two by Garfield and Madison Streets.

See our Gallery of Photos for more pictures!


More resources

We want your garden to look good and function beautifully. Here’s help:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 11.39.16 AM12000 Rain Gardens website presented by Stewardship Partners for comprehensive rain garden info.

Video:  Building a Rain Garden in the Pacific Northwest – A 32 minute video detailing how to build a rain garden. >>>

Rain Garden Construction – A checklist for constructing your rain garden.
Construction Sequencing – The order of constructing your rain garden.
Maintaining Your Rain Garden – Key maintenance tips for your new rain garden.

Register your rain garden

Once you’ve built your rain garden, visit the 12000 Rain Gardens website to register your rain garden. Be sure to check out the interactive map.Raingarden header shovels

[/section]