What is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens work with nature to collect and filter rainwater that runs off impervious surfaces like rooftops and driveways. Impervious surfaces lead to increases in surface runoff and often result in increased flooding and stream bank erosion. As water travels over impervious surfaces it also has the potential to pick up pollutants. Polluted stormwater runoff enters our rivers and lakes and is one of the leading threats to water quality in the U.S. Rain gardens naturally manage stormwater by infiltrating precipitation and allowing it to soak into the ground, rather than sending it directly to storm sewers and nearby streams untreated.

Rain Gardens Have Many Benefits!

  • Can help manage flooding issues on your property.
  • Make a beautiful addition to your landscaping while providing great habitat for bees, butterflies, and birds.
  • Prevent tons of polluted stormwater from reaching our waterways. Over 2 million gallons of stormwater get filtered each year by the rain gardens installed through our Master Rain Gardener program!
Rain garden graphic

Northeast Ohio Master Rain Gardener Program


Master Rain Gardeners earn their certification by taking the class and building a rain garden. Experienced instructors will provide customized feedback which will enable you to design and install a rain garden of your own - and serve as your neighborhood rain garden expert! Master Rain Gardeners help friends and neighbors to learn about, design, and plant rain gardens. Course topics will include site assessment, soil analysis, design, construction, plant selection, mulching, and maintenance.

This 5-week course is open to residents of Northeast Ohio and can be taken in-person or online. The online course consists of recorded webinars that can be watched at your convenience within the course timeline, allowing for more flexibility for those who are unable to attend the in-person classes. We also offer the option for participants to join weekly live online Q&A sessions.

Both the online and in-person course will include optional field trips. All participants will be required to complete all online or in-person course content, hands-on assignments, and weekly quizzes. Graduates of the course will receive a certificate, Master Rain Gardener T-shirt, and a yard sign upon course completion.


Need-based scholarships are available for Residential Certification students!

We are committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive program that is accessible to all Ohio residents. Please reach out to the instructor of the course you are interested in to learn more about our scholarship opportunities.

Meet the Instructors

Laura Bonnell – Associate Director, Chagrin River Watershed Partners

Natalie Gertz-Young – Information/Education Coordinator, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District

Kate Chapel – Watershed Coordinator - Euclid Creek, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District 

Kaylee Acres Eclov - Project Manager, Chagrin River Watershed Partners 
Program Coordinators: Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, and Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District

Program Partners: Summit Soil & Water Conservation District, Lake Metroparks, Cleveland Metroparks, and NEOPIPE

2024 Program Funders: Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Lake County Stormwater Management Department, the William Bingham Foundation, and the George Gund Foundation

Program Creator: Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office