get a rebate for a rain garden to reduce polluted water in our rivers?


1. Learn about this resource. 

Residents can receive a rebate when they help reduce polluted water from getting into our rivers by installing rain gardens at their home in DC. Rain gardens collect rainwater and filter out pollution. We—DC Government—offer a one-time rebate of $3 per square foot of treatment area up to $2,200 and not more than the cost of your rain garden.


This program is called RiverSmart Rebates and is offered by the Department of Energy & Environment, in partnership with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (or the Alliance for short), a local nonprofit.

2. Check if you are eligible.

You are eligible if you own or rent a residential or commercial building in DC. You don’t need to live in DC to apply, as long as the property you’re applying for is in DC and you appoint someone to take care of the garden.

3. Apply.

  1. Start by figuring out the best location for your rain garden. Follow the guidance in our rain garden guide. You’ll need to consider how far the rain garden is from your foundation and property lines. If you have any questions about the location of your rain garden, contact Jordan Gochenaur ( at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (or the Alliance for short), our local nonprofit partner, for help!
  2. Test the location you selected to see how quickly water drains from the soil. This is called a percolation test (or for short, perc test). Complete the perc test worksheet and hold onto it to include in your application.
  3. Take photos of the installation location without the garden and hold onto those to include in your application.
  4. Select a landscaper to install your rain garden. We recommend selecting a landscaper with experience successfully installing rain gardens to make sure your rain garden works properly and lasts a long time. Contact Jordan Gochenaur ( at the Alliance for a list of landscapers familiar with the rebate program. If you’re installing the rain garden yourself, determine the equipment you’ll need.
  5. Prepare a design sketch (example in our rain garden guide) and an itemized budget. Your design must meet the requirements outlined in the rain garden guide, and you can use the sample itemized invoice worksheet in the application packet for your budget. If you’re working with a landscaper, they should work with you to complete this step, and you can attach their proposal to the application instead of completing the design and invoice sections.
  6. Complete the application form and maintenance agreement. We also include a form in the application packet for you to apply for a discount on your DC Water bill, called RiverSmart Rewards, at the same time.
  7. Submit your completed application, maintenance agreement, perc test worksheet, itemized invoice, and before photos. You can email them to Jordan Gocheanaur ( or mail them to:
Jordan Gochenaur Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay 729 8th Street, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20003

You should apply and wait for approval before installing your rain garden to make sure it meets all of the requirements listed in our rain garden guide. We will still consider your application if you submit it up to one year after your rain garden is installed, but if it doesn’t meet all of the requirements listed in our rain garden guide, it is not eligible for a rebate.

4. Gather more information.

What happens after I apply?

  1. Within 2-3 weeks, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (or the Alliance for short) will review your application and email or call you if your application is approved. In some cases, the Alliance will schedule a time to inspect the location where you plan to install the rain garden. If you already had an inspection through the RiverSmart Homes program, you don’t need another inspection.
  2. After your application is approved by the Alliance, install the rain garden yourself or with your landscaper. It’s optional, but if you can, take photos of the installation process to include with your project completion form (see step #5).
  3. Take photos of the installed rain garden that show that the garden meets all the criteria in our rain garden guide. Hold onto these to include with your project completion form (see step #5).
  4. Complete a project completion form with information about the final design and cost of the rain garden installation.
  5. Submit your project completion form and your after photos to Jordan Gochenaur at
  6. Within 2-3 weeks after you submit your project completion form, the Alliance will email or call you to schedule a time to inspect the location where you installed the rain garden.
  7. Within six weeks after the Alliance has inspected and approved your rain garden, they will mail you a check for your rebate at the address in your application.
  8. You maintain and care for the rain garden, including watering plants, weeding, and keeping the downspout outlet clear, following our maintenance guide. Your garden needs regular attention to make sure it’s working correctly. If you need advice on how to maintain your rain garden, you can submit a question to the Alliance.
  9. DC Government or the Alliance may randomly choose your home for an inspection to check that everything is maintained properly. We will email or call you to schedule the inspection if your garden is selected to be inspected.
If you are not approved, we will email or call you within two weeks of your application to let you know. We’ll let you know what changes you can make to the location or design of your rain garden for your application to be approved. Then, you may need to send in a revised design sketch, itemized invoice, perc test worksheet, and/or before photos for us to reevaluate your application.

Are there any additional requirements I should know about?

You may need permits for your project. Visit the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ Homeowner’s Center for information about permit requirements and how to apply for a permit.

Who should I contact if I have questions?

First, take a look at the frequently asked questions at the bottom of the page. If you still have questions, please reach out to Jordan Gochenaur at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at (202) 553-6483. Or you can email Jordan at with the subject line “Rain Garden Rebate Question”. Include before photos if you can. If you would like to talk to someone in DC Government about the program, please reach out to our RiverSmart Homes team at (202) 535-2252, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Or, you can email us at using the subject line “Rain Garden Rebate Question.”

I still need help making my home more environmentally friendly. What should I do?

You can find information about other resources that help make your home more environmentally friendly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is my rebate calculated? The rebate calculated based on the size of the treatment area, which includes the rain garden itself and areas (rooftops, concrete patios, asphalt driveways) draining into the rain garden. The treatment area must be at least 400 square feet. For example, if you install a 50 square foot rain garden and design it so that water from your 450 square foot roof drains into the rain garden, you could get a $1,500 rebate ($3 x 500 square feet). Can I get help installing my rain garden or other qualifying green projects, like a shade tree or rain barrel? Maybe! Our RiverSmart Homes program offers reduced prices and installation assistance for rain barrels, trees, rain gardens, and BayScaping. You may be eligible if you own a single-family home (or a building with four or fewer units). You pay $100 per 50 square feet of rain garden (up to two on each property), and we cover the rest, including installation. If you are approved for a rain garden larger than 75 square feet through RiverSmart Homes, you can also apply for a rebate to cover the remaining cost. RiverSmart Rebates might be a better fit for you than RiverSmart Homes if you prefer to:

  • design a rain garden yourself, as long as it meets the requirements in our rain garden guide
  • avoid long wait times to be assigned to a landscaper
  • select your own landscaper or do the installation yourself
I’d like to get a rebate for other green projects, like a shade tree or rain barrel. What should I do? When you install qualifying green projects on your own or with an installer you choose, you can receive a rebate from us—DC Government. The eligibility criteria, application process, and amount of rebate vary depending on the type of project, and you may need to apply before installation. You can learn more about the projects we offer rebates for:
  • Green roofs to support the growth of plants that retain rainwater
  • Permeable surfaces to capture and temporarily store rainwater instead of a regular asphalt or concrete surface
  • Rain barrels to catch and store rain to use later to water your garden or wash your car
  • Shade trees to help retain rainwater in the soil
Can I get any other financial assistance for installing a rain garden? Yes! When you apply for this program, we’ll help you apply for a discount on your DC Water bill, called RiverSmart Rewards. This discount is for property owners who prevent runoff on their property with qualifying green projects, like rain gardens. How do these green projects help the city of DC? Green projects, like rain barrels, rain gardens, and shade trees, help reduce the amount of polluted rainwater running off your property and into your rivers. This helps us protect the Anacostia River, Potomac River, and Rock Creek from harmful pollution. Can I try to reapply for the program if I am not approved? Yes. You can reapply for a rebate if you believe changes to your situation might make you eligible.

Do all eligible applicants receive the rebate?

Yes. As long as your rain garden meets all of the requirements listed in our rain garden guide, you’ll get a rebate.

This resource is provided by:

Keywords: landscaping, homeowners, renters, business owners, nonprofits, community-based organizations, churches, temples, mosques, apartment buildings, reimbursement, reduce pollution, polluted water, sustainability, refund, discount, green home

This page was last updated May 2021.

Department of Energy and Environment