Rain gardens

Rain gardens are shallow depressions that temporarily hold water. This allows water time to soak into the ground. Letting water soak into the ground helps reduce runoff, and keeps water clean!

How does a rain garden keep water clean? In most urban areas stormwater flows quickly over impervious surfaces like rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, and roads. As it flows, water picks up dirt, leaves, trash, fertilizer, and other pollutants. All of this can be washed into storm drains and then directly into ponds, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Catching water in a rain garden not only prevents it from becoming dirty but also cleans the water by letting it soak into the ground.

On its own, a rain garden may seem small. But, added together, they can have a tremendous effect on water quality. Plus, the native plants growing in a rain garden add habitat for insects and animals, such as butterflies and birds.

Coming in many different sizes and designs it may seem difficult to build a rain garden. Do not worry! From cost-sharing grants to simplistic easy designs, help is available. See the information below to help you get started on your path to having a rain garden of your own!

How To

There are many ways to build a rain garden correctly and about as many ways to do it wrong. For more complex designs it may be worth hiring a contractor. However, smaller, more simple designs can be done by any amateur gardener. A rain garden can be as basic as just catching water from your roof at the end of a downspout. A small rain garden like this requires no more than a shovel, mulch and a little bit of free time!

Here is a guide to build a small rain garden

(Click the image to expand)

RaingardenSteps PNG

More Information:

  • Metro Blooms, a local non-profit, offers good resources on rain gardens and other beneficial ways to improve your yard. Check out the video int the following link about rain garden design and maintenance.
  • The University of Minnesota Extension provides easy to follow direction and consideration for a do-it-yourself rain garden project.
  • Blue Thumb is a private/public partnership that hosts a lot of information about rain gardens including an informational video and plant guides
  • The City of Bloomington has put together this simple guide to help you through the required, yet simple, maintenance a rain garden requires.
  • The City of Bloomington has also put together this fact sheet about rain gardens. It covers benefits, designs, permitting, and other common questions.

Cost Share Grant Information

Cost share programs for rain gardens are available for some Bloomington residents, depending on which watershed district you live in. Find out which watershed district you are in.

Use the drop-down tabs below to see specific information on each grant program. There is also grant money available from Hennepin County that is applicable for all Bloomington residents.

Lower Minnesota River Watershed District

The Cost Share Incentive and Water Quality Restoration Program grants will be awarded for up to 50% of a projects cost by a means of reimbursement, for materials, labor, engineering, and consulting fees. The minimum grant award is $500.

Maximum grant award:

  • $2,500 for residential projects
  • $7,500 for townhome, condominium, or lake associations
  • $20,000 for commercial, government, or non-profit projects

Visit the link for more information:


According to the LMRWD, cost share funds are available to public or private land owners within the LMRWD to carry out projects that support one or more of the following:

  • Grant funds are available to residents, associations, nonprofits, schools, businesses, and cities for projects located within District boundaries.
  • Many types of projects are eligible for grant money. A few examples include: rain gardens, shoreline restoration, permeable pavers, buckthorn removal with native restoration, and more!

For clarification, contact District Administrator Linda Loomis at 763-545-4659 or naiadconsulting@gmail.com.

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District

The Nine Mile Creek Watershed District is offering financial assistance for projects that protect and improve water and natural resources within the Nine Mile Creek Watershed.

Visit the following link for more details


Grants are reimbursed for up to 75% of a project's cost for materials, labor, engineering, and consulting fees. the minimum grant award is $500.

Maximum grant award:

  • $5,000 for residential projects
  • $20,000 for townhome, condominium, or lake association
  • $50,000 for commercial, government, and non-profit projects

Projects should achieve one or more of the following:

  • improve water quality or increase the capacity of the watershed to store water
  • preserve, protect, and restore native plant and wildlife habitat with an emphasis on locations at, or near, ponds, lakes, streams, and other wetlands.
  • protect and preserve groundwater quality and quantity

Have questions or want to talk through a project idea? Contact Erica, Program & Project Manager, at 952-358-2276 or esniegowski@ninemilecreek.org

Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District

RPBCWD provides financial assistance to help community members take action for healthy water in you r neighborhood, city, watershed district, and beyond.

Visit the following link for more details


There are three grant funding programs:

  • Watershed stewardship grants – Funding and technical help for projects that protect and improve water resources. Examples: rain gardens, buffers, habitat restoration, tree trenches, rainwater reuse. Who can apply: homeowners, non-profits, schools, businesses, and local government
  • Action grants – Small, simple grants for team projects and activities that protect clean water. Examples: an Earth day clean-up or planting native flowers with a group of friends. Who can apply: residents, students, local businesses, and groups or troops
  • Educator grants – Support for educators to incorporate water resources into their teaching. Examples: a trip to a nature center, building terrariums, or nets for exploring a creek. Who can apply: teachers and informal educators

Richfield-Bloomington Watershed Management Organization

Richfield-Bloomington Watershed Management Organization does not have a cost share program at this time.

Hennepin County

The County has a variety of funding options for residents seeking to improve the natural value of their property. For those pursuing funding for a rain garden, the Natural Resources Grants program would be the most applicable source of funding

Visit the following link for more details: