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Rain Garden Initiative

The Rain Garden Initiative, part of the Greener Yards, Cleaner Waters program,is made possible by funding from SC Johnson Fund, E.C. Styberg Foundation, Southeast Wisconsin Clean Water Network, Michigan State University's Networked Neighborhoods for Eco-Conservation in partnership with Great Lakes Protection Fund, Wisconsin Energy Foundation, Racine Community Foundation, Freshwater Future, Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, In-Sink-Erator, Southeast Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, River Network/Miller Coors, Wild Ones, and in partnership with UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

104 Rain Gardens in Five Years

Rain GardenSince 2008, Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network funded a total of 104 rain gardens at sites in Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. Thirty-nine of the gardens are open to the public and feature an educational sign that describes how rain gardens function to improve water quality. The public gardens include 10 gardens that receive discharge from sump pumps. Much like rainwater runoff, sump pump water often ends up in ditches, gutters and roads, where it picks up pollutants and carries them to streams, rivers and lakes. Root-Pike WIN will provide technical assistance to all funded sites for three years to ensure that the rain gardens are functioning as intended to reduce storm water runoff.

Rain Gardens Can Make A Difference

Water running off residential roofs, roads and driveways can increase water in a stream by 500%, leading to increased flooding and erosion. A 300-square-foot rain garden infiltrates 12,000 gallons of water every year, or enough to fill 21/2 tanker trucks.

Rain Garden Facts

  • 104 rain gardens funded and 97 still functioning.
  • Keep approximately 900,000 gallons of rain water and snow-ice melt out of roads and storm sewers each year by capturing and infiltrating runoff in rain gardens
  • 39 rain gardens open to the public in Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties
  • 58 private residential rain gardens
  • Average size: 225 square feet

2013 Rain Gardens

  • Root-Pike WIN is currently seeking funding for its 2013 rain garden program.
  • Sign-up for Greener Yards, Cleaner Waters e-newsletter for information on upcoming free workshops, building and maintaining a rain garden, how to compost, buying and installing a rain barrel, getting free and low cost native "stormwater" trees, and other free green stuff.


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