Master Rain Gardener Program

Anyone interested in becoming a Master Rain Gardener has the opportunity to do so through a 5-session course offered through the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD). The course teaches participants how to design, dig and plant their own rain gardens so they can then share their knowledge and become their community’s rain garden expert. 

MRG Residential Flyer 2021_v5 Opens in new windowWhat is a rain garden?

What is a rain garden? Rain gardens capture and soak in rainwater that runs off hard surfaces, such as roofs and driveways, while filtering pollutants that would otherwise flow into our storm drains and into our creeks and streams, which can increase erosion to banks and cause flooding. Polluted stormwater runoff enters our rivers and lakes and is one of the leading threats to water quality in the U.S.

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. Experienced instructors will provide customized feedback which will enable you to design and install a rain garden. Topics will include site assessment, soil analysis, design, construction, plant selection, mulching and maintenance.

How do I participate?

The online course will be offered as 5 weekly modules, allowing for more flexibility for participants. All participants will be required to complete five weeks of course content and hands-on assignments and weekly quizzes.

Register on the CSWD’s website

Online Schedule:

  • Wednesday May 20, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Live Instruction. Pre-Recorded content at your own pace.
  • Wednesday May 27, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Live Instruction. Pre-Recorded content at your own pace.
  • Wednesday June 3, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Live Instruction. Pre-Recorded content at your own pace.
  • Wednesday June 10, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Live Instruction. Pre-Recorded content at your own pace.
  • Wednesday June 17, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Live Instruction & Class Presentations. Pre-Recorded content at your own pace.

What will I learn?

There are two types of certifications one can earn by completing this course - Residential Certification and Professional Certification - both of which are described below.

Residential Certification is geared toward homeowners who would like to install a rain garden in their own yard and serve as the neighborhood expert on rain gardens. This is a great educational extension program for Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists as well. To earn this certification, participants must complete the online five-week course and install their own rain garden or adopt a public rain garden. Participants will receive a certificate, Master Rain Gardener T-shirt, and yard sign upon course completion.

Professional Certification is geared toward landscape professionals and contractors looking to install rain gardens professionally on residential properties. To earn this certification, participants are required to complete the online 5-week course, pass an exam, and attend a field day at which participants will install a public rain garden from start to finish. Upon course completion, you will be awarded a Master Rain Gardener Professional Certification, which can be used to promote your expertise and as a selling point for your business.


  • $50 - Residential
  • $75- Professional
  • *Scholarships available - Email to discuss


The program is hosted by Cuyahoga SWCD, Lake SWCD, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Mayfield Village, and Cleveland Metroparks. The instructors include Elizabeth Hiser and Amy Roskilly of the Cuyahoga SWCD, Natalie Gertz-Young of the Lake SWCD and Laura Bonnell of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners.

The Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office provides resources to host this program. Additionally, participants should note that:

  • Programs are filled on a first come, first served basis, register early to get a spot.
  • Fees must be paid in full upon registration.
  • Program fees are non-refundable and non-transferable to another date/program unless Cuyahoga SWCD finds it necessary to cancel a program.
  • Your payment confirms you are registered for the program.
  • Completed registrations will receive a confirmation email.

Look for more updates on the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District’s Facebook page.