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Saving the Earth begins in the garden – and can save you money too

City of Guelph is offering a rebate to help promote water-saving rain gardens
Rain gardens can thrive and save money. Submitted photo

The City of Guelph is introducing a rebate program to homeowners who install rain gardens in their yards.

The program is being rolled out in the next few weeks with two workshops and participants could receive one-time rebates as high as $2,000.

This is not the same as rain barrels, which are also a good idea. Rain barrels are placed under downspouts and collect rain water to use to water your garden.

Rain gardens are designed to capture rain from your roof and filter it through flowers and soil and gravel back to the groundwater system instead of into storm sewers.

“We’re seeing weather extremes now,” said Karen McKeown, Outdoor Water Efficiency Program Coordinator for the City. “Often there are large volumes of water in one day. Rain gardens help lessen the impact on the storm drain system.”

Rain gardens are situated on a property so rain gutters empty directly to the garden. They require digging a depression in the ground, adding a layer of gravel to filter rain run-off and direct it down rather than to the street. Recommended plants for rain gardens are hardy and can tolerate both extreme wet and extreme dry conditions.

You don’t want to be changing the grading around your house without some guidance though, McKeown said. You can’t just plunk a rain garden at any downspout.

“That’s why we’re offering workshops,” she said. “That’s why you come to the program. That’s why you have to have a home visit.”

Staff helps the homeowner figure out the size, depth, and exact location of the garden so you don’t inadvertently direct water to the basement, or other horrors. Homeowners receive 50 cents per litre of diverted rainwater to a maximum $2,000. Staff helps the homeowner with that calculation and apply for the rebate as well.

The first workshop is May 30, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Evergreen Seniors Centre, where participants will learn the particulars of rain gardens and how and why they work. They’ll learn more about the rebate program and whether a rain garden is right for them.

The second workshop, on June 6, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Evergreen Seniors Centre, and it tucks into the actual design of your project on your property. From there participants can book their home visit.

Workshop participants get priority in booking a home visit and that’s an advantage as there are a limited number of rain garden home visits on offer.

The City has partnered with Reep Green Solutions in Kitchener to initiate the program.

Reep Green Solutions is a charitable organization that provides home energy audits and recommends ways to retrofit your home to save energy as well as water conservation initiatives.

Recommended plants for rain gardens include native species and pollinators like Joe Pyeweed, lobelia, native spirea, turtle head, and milkweed.

“It makes a lovely, natural garden to look at,” McKeown said. “You’d never know all the good it’s doing underground.”

To register for the workshops, visit and More information will be available at by early June.