words that say Thurston County

Thurston County Stormwater Utility

Rain Gardens

What is a Rain Garden?Rain Garden

A rain garden is a specially designed garden that acts like an undisturbed native forest by collecting, absorbing, and filtering stormwater runoff from hard surfaces like rooftops, driveways, patios, and other areas that don’t allow water to soak into the ground. Rain Gardens can be sized to fit smaller residential and commercial properties, but work best when at least 100 square feet in area. Rain gardens protect and improve water quality, while adding a lovely landscape amenity to your property.

Rain gardens:

  • Can be shaped and sized to fit your yard.
  • Are constructed with specially formulated soil mixes that allow water to soak in rapidly and support healthy plant growth.
  • Can be landscaped with a variety of plants to fit the surroundings.

A Little Garden Makes a Big Difference

Carefully placed, designed, and constructed for optimum function – rain gardens are a simple and effective solution for on-site stormwater management. Rain gardens use a proven technique called bio-retention to capture stormwater, filter pollutants and help stormwater soak into the ground. And with a variety of plant choices, they can be designed for year round beauty.

What are the Benefits of a Rain Garden?Rain Garden Example

Rain gardens can protect water quality and aquatic life in local streams, lakes and Puget Sound by:

  • Filtering oil, grease, pesticides, fertilizers and other pollutants from stormwater runoff,
  • Helping to infiltrate stormwater that may be running onto or off of your property,
  • Reducing flooding in neighborhoods and erosion in streams and along shorelines,
  • Increasing the amount of water that soaks into the ground to recharge local groundwater sources, which provide water to local streams in the dry season, and
  • Providing habitat for wildlife while beautifying landscapes.

Rain Garden Incentive Program

Are you a property owner in unincorporated Thurston County? Are you interested in installing a rain garden in your yard? Thurston County Water Resources is sponsoring a Rain Garden Incentive Program (Program) that will reimburse five selected applicants for up to $400 upon the successful completion of their rain garden. The incentive is intended for new rain gardens added to existing development. For program details, guidelines and application forms, click here.

Interested in Learning About Building a Rain Garden?


The Washington State University (WSU) Extension's Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington provides guidance for designing and building a rain garden.  Available online by clicking here.
The handbook includes worksheets, templates for developing a planting plan, rain garden plants list and more!


WSU Extension also provided a 32-minute video: Building a Rain Garden in the Pacific Northwest: Keeping Our Pacific Northwest Waters Clean., which you can access from their website by clicking here.


Stream Team offers FREE Rain Gardens Workshops annually. Go to www.streamteam.info and click on Calendar to find out about upcoming workshop dates. Workshop participants receive a FREE copy of the Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington.

News Articles

 Are Rain Gardens Mini Toxic Cleanup Sites?

Rain Garden Planting Plan Templates

 Sample Rain Garden Planting Plan for Sunny Area Stormwater Stewards

Request Help

Stormwater Stewards Site Visits

Stormwater Stewards are highly trained volunteers who are available to assist residents with site assessments, including the soil percolation test and filling out the Program application. If you need assistance with your application, or if you would like to request Stormwater Stewards to conduct a site evaluation and/or help you to complete the application and rain garden sketch, please call Native Plant Salvage at 360-867-2167 or email Nativeplantsalvage@gmail.com

Visit Local Rain Gardens!

There are several publically accessible rain gardens in Thurston County:

Register Your Rain Garden on the 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound website

Every rain garden that is installed in the Puget Sound region helps reduce pollution and flooding.
Click here to register you rain garden.



 For more information, contact Ann Marie Pearce at 360-754-3355 ext. 6857 or email pearcea@co.thurston.wa.us


This page last updated: