WSU Extension Snohomish County

Puget Sound Rain Gardens

Homeowner Resources

Having the right information before sighting, designing and installing a rain garden is crucial. A rain garden in the wrong location will not work. Designing a rain garden with the wrong soil mix or plants can cause future maintenance problems. Not paying attention to installation guidelines will compromise the rain garden’s function. These information resources will help you install a rain garden that will not only be beautiful but also infiltrate your stormwater for years to come. Your rain garden will help protect local streams and the Puget Sound.

Design and Build

Photo of cover of Rain Garden Handbook for Homeowners

Rain Garden Brochure

Rain Garden Video

Rain Garden Handbook for Homeowners (PDF) (new!)

Rain Garden Handbook for Homeowners, Printed Copy – call 425-338-2400

Calculating Rain Fall

Considerations for Building on a Slope or Near a Septic System (PDF)

Building a Rain Garden Video (Whatcom County Beach Watchers)

Photo Library and Map - Stewardship Partners

Rain Harvesting

Rainwater Collection -Calculating Your Needs

Master Gardener Rain Garden Mentors

The WSU Master Gardener program has Rain Garden Mentors available is some Puget Sound counties. They have received special training and have experience building rain gardens. They can answer many questions for you and offer referrals to professionals.

Kitsap County

Snohomish County

Thurston County

Where to Find Products and Services

WSU does not endorse any of the businesses, products or organizations listed below. They are listed below to assist rain garden installers in finding the products that they need to create a successful rain garden.

Soil Mix 60%/40% Sand/Compost and Course Mulch

Photo of soil in a person's hand

Find the right soil mix by doing an Internet search for "compost soil mix seattle area". There are a number companies with products available, but be specific about the mix that you want. The US Compost Council has a "Seal of Testing Assurance" (STA) as a minimum standard for compost. Some local suppliers are members and have their compost tested.

Bioretension Soil Mix technical bulletin

For your mulch, use course Compost below the ponding level because it tends not to float. On the sides above the ponding level, shredded or chipped wood (e.g. arborist chips or hog fuel) is recommended. See page 37 in the Rain Garden handbook for more information.


You may want to create a plant list by rain garden zone, before going to a nursery. Go to the Plants page to create your list.

Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association Listing

Specialty Nursery Guide

Puget Sound Fresh

Rain Garden Installers

(Note: *The following list of businesses completed a two-day ‘Rain Garden Training Workshop for Professionals’ sponsored by the City of Everett, the Snohomish Conservation District, Washington State University, and the Department of Ecology. We are making available information about participating businesses to assist homeowners with their projects. We are not endorsing any specific business/contractor/vendor or making any representation or warranty regarding their qualifications, products, or workmanship. Washington State University disclaims any liability that may be alleged to arise from the work of any business/contractor/vendor on a customer project.)


Lists of Intallers from other organizations  not associated with Washington State University

Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association Listing - Search under "Landscape."

Washington Association of Landscape Professionals - Search under "Landscape Installer."

City of Seattle Registered Rain Garden Venders

Photo of small rain garden

Design Professionals and Engineers

(Note: These links are offered for your information. By providing these links, WSU is not endorsing these organizations, members, services or products.)

Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Find Geological Engineers

Conservation Districts - some offer engineering services

Permits and Utilities

Depending where you live and the design of your rain garden, you may need a permit from your local building permit office. Call first. If you live within a city, inquire there. If not contact the county building department. Some jurisdictions offer online application processes.

Locating Utilities, call 811 or 1-800-424-5555


Locating a septic system: If your home is connected to a septic system, contact the Health District to locate “As-Built” plans for your lot. You want o avoid building on or near the leach field or the reserve leach field. Call your local utility locating service so they can locate any underground utilities serving your home.

Low Impact Development (LID)

Photo of pervious paving

There are other LID tools in addition to rain gardens for managing stormwater on your property. Here are some resources to check out.

Low Impact Development Fact Sheet

Low Impact Development Manual (PDF – 7MB)

Low Impact Development Website


Please read this important notice: Some WSU Extension websites provide links to external sites for the convenience of users. These external sites are not managed by WSU Extension. Furthermore, WSU Extension does not review, control or take responsibility for the content of these sites, nor do these sites implicitly or explicitly represent official positions and policies of WSU Extension.

Photo of rain garden using shrubs
WSU Snohomish County Extension, 600 128th Street SE, Everett, WA 98208, 425-338-2400,