Puget Sound Innovation Stories

12,000 Rain Gardens

Improving Puget Sound water quality one rain garden at a time!

Rain gardens reduce polluted runoff into streams and Puget Sound by capturing and filtering stormwater runoff from roofs, driveways, roads, and other hard surfaces. Rain gardens are being installed all over Puget Sound by homeowners, volunteers, businesses, and schools. Rain gardens feature well-draining soil and plants that like to get their feet wet. They are simple to install, easy to maintain and they beautify urban landscapes as they reduce pollution and prevent localized flooding. A typical home rain garden naturally filters 30,000 gallons of water per year, enough to fill a bathtub 600 times! The 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound is an effort to promote rain gardens by providing design guidance as well as lists of contractors, incentive programs, and other resources. The project launched in 2011 and since then has seen over 6,000 rain gardens installed across the region, actively involving homeowners, neighborhoods, schools, and businesses in solving their unique stormwater management needs. The 12,000 Rain Gardens campaign was able to take the rain garden concept that was working well at a grass roots, local level and scale it up through the twelve WSU Extension offices across Puget Sound. With the University’s broad reach and local connections, Stewardship Partners and WSU were able to co-create a campaign that is both regionally coordinated and community based.

What worked:

  • Working with communities and providing incentives resulted in the installation of 6,202 rain gardens since 2013.
  • Installing these rain gardens captures over 150 million gallons of stormwater each year.
  • Capturing the water in a rain garden soaks the water into the ground and reduces toxic chemicals and pollution before they enter Puget Sound.
  • Engaging thousands of homeowners, volunteers, businesses, and schools in building rain gardens brings communities together to maintain the rain gardens.
  • Incentive programs help to overcome equity barriers to installing rain gardens.


  • Removal of pollution in stormwater runoff keeps Puget Sound healthy.
  • Rain gardens beautify neighborhoods.
  • Localized flooding and erosion in urban streams are reduced.
  • Communities come together to protect Puget Sound water quality.
  • The 12000RainGardens.org website reaches over 75,000 users per year.


  • Congressional District: 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 10
  • Legislative District: 10, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 40, 42
  • WRIA: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
  • County: San Juan, Whatcom, Island, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, Clallam


  • Stewardship Partners
  • Washington State University Extension
  • City Habitats Network
  • Washington Stormwater Center
  • Resource Media
  • City of Seattle
  • King County
  • Green Infrastructure Partnership (GrIP)
  • Puget Sound Caucus of Conservation Districts
  • Department of Ecology
  • STORM and Puget Sound Starts Here Campaign
  • Ciscoe Morris
  • King 5 Television
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement
  • Cedar Grove Compost

Project Funding:

  • The Russell Family Foundation
  • The Boeing Company
  • King County Natural Resources and Parks
  • King Conservation District
  • Nisqually Tribe
  • City of Snoqualmie
  • Pierce Conservation District
  • Tacoma Community Foundation
  • Caffe Vita
  • Greater Good
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • EPA

More Info

Publish Date: July 5, 2019