Dig a Rain Garden

Harvest the rain passively and give water time to creep into the soil, instead of run to the ocean. Protect our watershed from harmful run-off while creating attractive garden habitat.

A rain garden is a simple design element you can incorporate into your yard that collects rain water instead of allowing it to runoff your property. It creates an attractive garden habitat, but also slows down water, recharges the aquifer, reduces runoff and pollution and protects our watershed. Not sure how to get started? We’ve got you covered. Wait for the next bout of rain and follow these simple steps.

Materials and Tools

  • Shovel
  • Water loving plants
  • Rain!


  1. On a rainy day, observe how storm water (fallen rain water) and runoff naturally flows through your space. The areas where the streams meet up and create larger streams are the areas you’ll want to consider for your rain garden’s location.
  2. Select a location and prepare the area for planting your rain garden.
  3. Be sure to start simple, too. Sculpting a shallow depression around a single existing tree can serve as a start to a rain garden.
  4. Choose plants common to your local climate with deep root systems to allow them to absorb as much stormwater as possible. Native perennials and shrubs are often ideal choices. Some examples for Southern California include Creeping Wildrye (Leymus triticoides), Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica) S, NZ bush sedge S (Carex solandri), Basket Rush (Juncus textilis)
  5. Plant your rain garden, and look forward to reducing the pollution reaching nearby waterways by as much as 30%!


Don’t forget to mulch your rain garden with at least a couple of inches of wood chips to help absorb stormwater, while keeping moisture in and weeds down!

About the Program

The Water Effect

The Water Effect is an initiative empowering Californians to cut our daily water footprint in half.

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