LA Rain Gardens Blossom with Beauty and Benefits


Finding the balance between water – its availability, usage and conservation – is a big part of the ongoing conversation here in California. We live in a state with limited water supplies, so finding solutions to our state’s ongoing water challenges is an issue that isn’t going to go away anytime soon. One program that is working towards getting LA closer to a sustainable future is the LA Rain Gardens Program, sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Generation Water and TreePeople.

The catalyst for the LA Rain Gardens Program was the 2010 20 x 2020 Water Conservation Plan, California’s plan to cut the state’s water usage by 20% by 2020. LA Rain Gardens, a pilot program which offers residents in the Northeast San Fernando Valley free rain garden installations or up to $1,000 for rain garden construction, brings water conservation to homeowners in a way that is both beneficial and beautiful.

Read on to learn more about how you may be able to take advantage of this free residential program!

What exactly is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a shallow depression planted with climate appropriate flowering plants and grasses. It is different from your typical garden for it is designed to hold rainwater runoff collected from rooftops and paved surfaces and prevent it from reaching the street. Rain gardens save homeowners money, time and water because once the native plants in the garden are established after 1-2 years, it requires no supplemental water. It also supports native wildlife and biodiversity, attracting birds, butterflies and beneficial insects.

When a rain garden is complete, it will be a depression in the land that water will flow into. Here in LA, most of the year, a rain garden will be dry; however, its beautiful California-friendly flowering plants and grasses will make it a beautiful addition to your landscape year-round.

Why a rain garden in Los Angeles?

When it rains in Los Angeles most of the water travels over paved surfaces where it picks up pollutants such as automotive fluids, trash and pesticides and carries them into our rivers, creeks and ocean. This untreated water is called urban runoff and is the biggest source of pollution in our rivers and ocean. Almost all urban runoff comes from the first inch of rainfall during any rain event. A rain garden is designed to capture the first inch of a rain event, which means these pollutants are captured and filtered, rather than ending up in our oceans.

Rain gardens are a great way to harvest rainwater and are an efficient and easy way to reduce polluted urban runoff. By capturing rainwater in your garden, you not only help keep our waterways and ocean clean, but by infiltrating the water back into the ground, they help to replenish groundwater supplies.

How do I get started?

This pilot program is taking place in Los Angeles’ Northeast San Fernando Valley because this is where soils are best for water infiltration. The first step is to determine if your home is in the pilot program area. The LA Rain Gardens program is offering two choices for the homeowner.

1. The Do It Yourself Option requires homeowners to purchase all necessary materials to construct a maximum of two rain gardens per household. Upon completion of the rain garden(s), LADWP will reimburse the homeowner up to $500 per rain garden.

2. The Let Us Do It! Option provides the installation of the rain garden(s) by a team of Generation Water staff. The first step is to identify the location on your property where you’d like to have the garden. After that, a team will do a site assessment to locate an appropriate site for your rain garden.

Both options are free to the homeowner. It’s your choice. To get started visit the LA Rain Gardens web site.

With the rainy season just around the corner, why not take advantage of this program? It’s a chance to have your own rain garden blossoming with beauty and benefits for you, your home and California.

Photo courtesy of LA Rain Gardens Program.


Comments (2)

  1. Olivia Vandenberg
    November 3rd, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Is this program still intact? I would love to get a garden installed however when I click the Rain Garden link above it directs me to a site that doesn’t exist. Thanks for your time!

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      November 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am

      This was a pilot program so it could be that the program has ended. TreePeople was a partner so we recommend calling them at (818) 753-4600 to ask about the status of this program. Thanks for your patience and best of luck!

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