Office of Drain Commissioner

Storm Water Education

Office of the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner
201 W. Kalamazoo Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

  • To order a soil test kit self-mailer for $25 to find out your soil's type and nutrient needs visit this site.
  • For a simple DIY soil test and for more guidelines on designing and installing a home rain garden visit this site.
  • For more installation considerations for commercial sites and new construction, see the Site Development Rules

Installation Guidelines

  • Visit to learn about the benefits of rain gardens.
  • Locate the rain garden at least 10 feet from a foundation or basement in parrial or full sun, in a relatively flat area.
  • Size the garden to be about 15-20% of the area from which it will receive runoff (e.g. roof, lawn, parking lot) for well-drained. sandy soils. Make the rain garden larger (30-45% of the drainage area) in clayey soils.
  • Kidney, oval, or other long shapes work well, with the length about twice the width. Direct runoff into the garden's long edge via a downspout or depression.
  • Call MISS DIG at 811 or 1-800-482-7171 before you dig.
  • For sandy or silty well-drained soils, dig a shallow basin about 3-6 inches deep, making the botom level and gently sloping the edges or building a berm around the lower edge. You may want to make the basin slightly deeper for clayey soils (5-7 inches).
  • Plant native plant plugs about 12-18 inches apart and add a 2 inch layer of shredded hardwood mulch or another ground cover to suppress weeds. Using edging can help keep grass out of your garden and provide definition.
  • Water plants in the first two years until established, cut back plants in the fall or spring and divide plants and weed as needed. Visit for pictures of plants in all growth stages to help with identification while weeding.
  • For assistance in situating, designing, or maintaining your rain garden, Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones offers a free site visit to your property with suggestions and advice for Wild Ones members, as well as a free yearly plant exchange. Yearly memberships start at $20-37. Visit for more information. Contact the Office of the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner (269-384-8117) for a partial refund toward a one-year membership after rain garden installation is complete.
Common name Species name Number of plants
Rain Garden 1 Rain Garden 2
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta 10 11
Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa 5 15
Button/Rough blazing star Liatris aspera 12 14
Nodding wild onion Allium cernuum 8 7
Prairie dropseed Sporobolus heterolepis 8 7
Prairie phlox Phlox pilosa 11 9
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea 8 7
Purple milkweed Asclepias purpurascens 5 9
Lead plant Amorpha canescens 3
Little bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium 15
Smooth aster Aster laevis 5
Wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa 10

Rain Garden 1:
70 sq. ft. rain garden for sandy or silty soils, full or partial sun.
Can accept up to 350 sq. ft. of drainage area to the garden.
Total number of plants needed: 67 Approximate cost: $250-350

Rain Garden 2:
140 sq. ft. rain garden for sandy or silty soils, full or partial sun.
Can accept up to 700 sq. ft. of drainage area to the garden
Total number of plants needed: 112 Approximate cost: $450-550

Recommended plants may be available for purchase at:

Hidden Savanna Nursery many local native varieties available
100 N Van Kal St. Kalamazoo, MI / 269-352-3876
See website or call for dates and times of sales, additional times are available by appointment.
*Bring this brochure to Hidden Savanna for 5% off in addition to retail discounts already offered

Romence Gardens
9660 Shaver Road, Portage, MI / 269-323-8310

Wedel's Nursery, Florist and Garden Center
5020 Texas Drive, Kalamazoo, MI / 269-345-1195
*Ask about their loyalty program for $5 and $10 rewards

Wenke Greenhouses
5071 Market Street, Kalamazoo, MI / 269-388-2266
*Ask about their free Garden Fewards program

Print friendly version of the above content is linked here:
Rain Garden Designs for Kalamazoo County

These local businesses specialize in rain garden design, installation, and/or maintenance:

Geum Services
Stephen Allen
P.O. Box 35
Richland, MI 49083
269-370-0150 / 269-370-0984

Kalamazoo Garden Design & Maintenance
1737 Greenlawn Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

Native Connections
Jerry Stewart
17080 Hoshel Road
Three Rivers, MI 49093

Sandstone Creation
Jim Garrison
101 E. Walnut Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Wedel's Nursery, Florist, and Garden Center
5020 Texas Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Additional area greenhouses where rain garden plants may be available for purchase:

For a list of nurseries that provide Michigan native plants and seeds outside of Kalamazoo County, please visit the Michigan Native Plant Producers Association website at

River Street Flowerland
1300 River Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49048

Saunders Greenhouse
10745 Almena Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Schram's Greenhouse
7313 South Westnedge Avenue
Portage, MI 49002

Local organizations promoting rain gardens and native plants:

Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Program / Kalamazoo County Master Gardener Association

Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones