Schoolyard Rain Gardens

class poses next to rain garden

The Water Resources Commissioner's Office has been working with schools to teach about water quality, stormwater and rain gardens since 2014. Schools throughout Washtenaw County have built rain gardens in their own schoolyards. Schoolyard rain gardens can become a teaching tool for lessons on plants, habitats, water, soils and more. These little gardens also collect, store and slow stormwater, which filters the water clean and reduces puddling on the playground.

Often three classroom lesson are taught by Water Resources staff to 1) explain stormwater management and how rain gardens can help keep our lakes and streams clean; and 2) teach how to design a rain garden to scale and choose native plants. Students and volunteers then build and/or plant a rain garden. A final lesson is taught where students create a factsheet to explain the project to others at the school. 

Schoolyard Rain Garden Sites:

  • ACCE in Ypsilanti
  • Ann Arbor STEAM at Northside
  • Bach Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Bates Elementary in Dexter
  • Clague Middle School in Ann Arbor
  • Eberwhite Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Estabrook Elementary in Ypsilanti
  • Holmes Elementary in Ypsilanti
  • Huron High School in Ann Arbor
  • King Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Lawton Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Mitchell Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Pattengill Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Summers Knoll in Ann Arbor
  • Thurston Elementary in Ann Arbor
  • Ypsilanti Community High School

Schoolyard Rain Garden Stewards:
Stewards care for rain gardens at school sites. Often volunteers work with teachers and school staff to involve students in caring for and learning about rain gardens. 

During the first summer after a spring planting, rain gardens will need to be watered weekly. Regular weeding, pruning and occasional planting or transplanting is needed. 

Learn More:
Guidebook to Schoolyard Rain Gardens
This guidebook will walk you through the project process, provide you with classroom lessons and give you tips for ongoing care of your rain garden.

Video from Ann Arbor Open Students

If you are interested in volunteering or working with Water Resources staff to bring the Schoolyard Rain Garden program to your school, contact Catie at [email protected] or 734-222-6813. 

Girls hold small plant near garden

Grant Programs

If you are creating a rain garden in a public space that will teach people about native plants and water quality, there are a few opportunities for grants.

Washtenaw County Conservation District

Seeds for Education

Wildflower Association


Project Learning Tree

The Nature Conservancy

Additional Grants for Schools