Time for Summer Rain Garden Maintenance

Summer is here, which means it’s time to water your rain garden! 

During the first two years of your rain garden’s life the plants are just getting established and will need water during dry periods. Once the roots have spread out and down (after two years) you won’t need to water them as much or at all.

If your rain garden is less than 2-3 years old, now is the time to start watering it!

RainWise has produced a video on “Watering Rain Gardens” that can help you learn how much to water your rain garden.

You can also refer to the Rain Garden Care Guide for helpful tips on watering and general plant care (Watering, page 10).

We have many great rain garden resources available in our Resource Library to answer your rain garden questions and help you maintain your hardworking garden!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Join our Rain Garden Assessment Team!

We are currently looking for volunteers to help us develop and test a “Rapid Assessment Protocol” for rain gardens. We have over 100 volunteers signed up and working to test a more thorough Rain Garden Assessment Protocol, but the cities and towns around the region who are funding this work also want to see if we can create a quick and easy way to answer the simple question of whether or not a rain garden is functioning based on a limited number of observations and measurements. 

We’d love your involvement with this process! If you are in or near Thurston, Pierce, Snohomish or Jefferson counties, and you are available to spend a couple of hours going to a specific rain garden that our team will direct you to, spend 30-60 minutes recording what you observe and then submitting that information, please write us back to sign up. We will most likely team you up with at least one other volunteer and assign you to assess between 1 and 3 rain gardens in August or September.

Please let us know if you are interested by August 11th by emailing Emma Vowels at ev@stewardshippartners.org and please feel free to share this with others who you think may be interested.


Background:  Rain gardens are an important tool to address polluted runoff in local waterways and Puget Sound. Rain gardens keep this stormwater out of the streets; allow time for water to infiltrate into soils; and filter out pollutants through plants and the organisms and fungi in the soils.


What:  With funding from over 90 Western Washington cities and towns, a team of Puget Sound-based WSU Extension offices, Stewardship Partners, City of Puyallup and other regional advisors is developing a method to assess individual rain garden effectiveness. Volunteers will play a critical role in the success of creating this tool, which will be used by local and state governments, organizations, and businesses throughout the region once it’s completed.

Volunteer Commitment:

  • Team test the field-based methods on local rain garden sites during Aug/Sept 2017
  • Provide feedback so project leaders can improve the model before developing online training & final assessment protocols
  • No training needed to test the “Rapid Assessment Protocol” on local rain garden sites during Aug/Sept 2017


Why Volunteer?

  • Help fill a critical research gap in our region to result in more effective rain gardens in the future.
  • Gain skills and knowledge in evaluating soils, plants, hydrology, public perception & more.
  • Work in small teams (we’ll help connect you!) and learn from others in your group.
  • Build camaraderie with fellow volunteers from different backgrounds.
  • Be recognized in the final documents that will inform professionals concerned about stormwater throughout Western Washington, and which may be used to create a national model.
  • Eligible for Continuing Education/Special Credits and volunteer hours through your WSU Extension program.


Rain Garden Planter Project Guide

The finished project!

As some of you may remember, back in October 12,000 Rain Gardens and the Seattle Garden Club worked together to install a planter rain garden in the Laurelhurst neighborhood.  A galvanized water trough was turned into a rain garden which would capture run off from roughly 200 sq. feet of contributing area. While the planter rain garden turned out to be a beautiful addition to the homeowner’s yard, the original methods we used to put together the rain garden were not successful. The homeowner experienced issues with the rain garden’s functionality and drainage.

We recently revisited the site and made some changes to the planter rain garden in order to get it to manage stormwater properly. Through this process of installing and then re-designing the rain garden, we learned a lot about how to successfully put together a planter rain garden. We have put together a document which explores this process and shares the steps that were used to create this planter rain garden. We hope that our Rain Garden Planter Project Guide will be useful to others who are interested in designing and installing their own planter rain garden.