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Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are relatively new ideas. Because of this, it takes a little more work to plan and install them compared to more traditional landscaping projects. However, this site will help you every step of the way, so keep reading to do your part for water quality!



Planting Plans

You can customize your rain garden to not only improve water quality but also fit it to your own landscape preferences or needs. Do you have a lot of shade in your yard? Do you want to make sure plants don’t get too tall and block your views? Or would you like a bird and butterfly garden? See below for easy to understand planting plans and plant lists, as well as step-by-step directions for building your garden. Here is a great Yard Design Tool.

Installation and Maintenance Resources

Native plants and landscapers familiar with rain gardens can sometimes be hard to find, but that should not discourage you from installing a rain garden.  There are several organizations that can provide technical assistance to you, including your County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Herring Run Native Plant Nursery, and the Native Plants Center Chesapeake Region. Or, if you’re ready to pursue the project yourself, see below for lists of suppliers and installers to make your garden a reality.

Plant and Soil Suppliers

Wondering where you can find native plants, soil amendments, or drainage stone for your rain garden? The material supply list below is provided to help you find the necessary materials for you to build and plant your project. Start with the Herring Run Native Plant Nursery, Maryland Native Plant Society, and Virginia Native Plant Society.

Hire a Professional

The planning and construction of a small rain garden can usually be a do-it-yourself project; however in some instances, it may be necessary or desirable to hire a professional. You want to make sure the professional you hire is able to design your project to your satisfaction and also fulfill city requirements (if there are any).  When you are looking for a professional, use recommendations from neighbors, online resources and other databases, or consult your local Soil and Water Conservation District. The following are all good questions to ask potential candidates to ensure you will be satisfied with their work:

  • What experience do you have with rain gardens?
  • Are you willing to work with homeowners?
  • Are you knowledgeable about local requirements and permits?
  • Can you help me find an appropriate location and design for my rain garden?
  • Can you help with drainage, infiltration and soil requirements for placing a rain garden on my property

Maintenance Guides

One great benefit of native plants is that they are low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any attention. You will certainly need to maintain your rain garden to keep it functioning properly and visually pleasing. Check these websites for installation and maintenance resources: Maryland Native Plant SocietyVirginia Native Plant Society, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 


Some areas may require a permit for you to install a rain garden. You may want to check with your planning and zoning department or your County Soil and Water Conservation District to see if any special action is required for native plantings. When installing a rain garden, you will also need to call before you dig to make sure you don’t dig into any underground utilities! Call 811 two days before you plan to start to have the utility companies come out and mark your utilities for free.


In some cities or towns, it may also be necessary to register your rain garden so that it can be recognized and monitored. In other areas, this may not be necessary, but you might still like to get some recognition for the work you’re doing for our environment. The National Wildlife Federation offers a certification program for backyards, neighborhoods, businesses, schoolyards, and just about any other property. Once a property is certified, the landowner has the option to install a nice sign identifying the area as wildlife-friendly.

You can also have your yard inspected by Maryland Master Gardeners, and recieve a Bay-Wise Certification for your property. Contact the Master Gardener in your county for more information. 


Still need information?

View our frequently asked questions about rain gardens!

Rain Garden FAQs

    How does a rain garden work?

    Click here for an animated view of how a rain garden works. 

      Need help selecting plants?

      Maryland Native Plant Society, and Virginia Native Plant Society have resources for choosing and buying native plants.

      Herring Run Nursery, located in the Mount Pleasant Golf Course, is a non-profit nursery operated by Blue Water Baltimore that specializes in native plants grown in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

      The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website recommends native species for each state and a variety of situations.

        Herring Run Native Plant Nursery

        Herring Run Nursery, located in the Mount Pleasant Golf Course, is a non-profit nursery operated by Blue Water Baltimore that specializes in native plants grown in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

        The Nursery offers more than 250 native species of trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, and plants to both retail and wholesale customers. The nursery strives to offer native plants which are beautiful, durable, high in wildlife value, and appropriate for Chesapeake Bay area landscapes.

        Helpful native plant resources.

          Want to plant natives in a dry area of your yard, too?

          Download the native planting area plans below to create a native flowerbed.