Gardening enthusiasts can become Master Rain Gardeners

Master Rain Gardeners help friends and neighbors to learn about, design and plant rain gardens.

Rain gardens work with nature to collect and filter rainwater that runs off impervious surfaces like rooftops and driveways. Increased surface runoff often results in increased flooding and stream bank erosion. Polluted stormwater runoff can enter rivers and lakes and is one of the leading threats to water quality in the U.S.

Master Rain Gardener programs teach participants how to manage rainwater in their own yard. Rain gardens naturally manage stormwater by infiltrating precipitation and allowing it to soak into the ground rather than sending it directly to storm sewers and nearby streams untreated.

There are several Master Gardener classes offered in Cuyahoga and Summit Counties for the spring season to help gardeners reach the ultimate goal of building their own rain garden.

Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, and Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District are partnering to offer Master Rain Gardener courses. Each course consists of five classes held over a six-week period. Participants will learn how to design, install and maintain residential rain gardens.

A spring in-person course will be held Mondays, May 2-June 6, at the Watershed Stewardship Center in Parma. Cost of the program is $75.

Year-around, a recorded, self-paced online option is available for those who need flexibility.  Feedback is provided virtually. Cost for the online program is $50.

Both the in-person and online courses will include optional field trips to residential rain gardens, public rain gardens and native plant nurseries. Course topics will include site assessment, soil analysis, design, construction, plant selection, mulching and maintenance. Master Rain Gardeners earn their certification by taking the class and building a rain garden. Graduates of the course will receive a certificate, Master Rain Gardener T-shirt and a yard sign.

Dates and locations of additional summer courses are to be announced. Income-based scholarships are available. If you are interested in registering, but have concerns about cost, reach out to the course instructors. Based on need, courses can be offered for as low as $10 for online and $20 for in-person. For more information and to register, visit neomasterraingardener.org.

In Summit County, the Summit Soil and Water Conservancy District is offering Master Rain Gardener classes starting in March. A virtual orientation meeting for the class will be held March 15, at which time links to the online classes will be provided. The series of online classes will have weekly Zoom meetings with the first lesson on March 22 and the last session April 19.

The SSWCD will provide weekly feedback on assignments and quizzes. Upon completion of the course, a participant must install a rain garden at home or help install a community rain garden as a volunteer before receiving a Master Rain Gardener certificate.

Register at sswcd.summitoh.net/featured/master-rain-gardener-program. Cost for the class is $25. Registration and payment must be sent to the Summit SWCD office by March 8. Call 330-926-2452 for more information. ‚ąě