An illustration showing the silhouette of a person leaning on a porch railing, enjoying a steaming hot beverage, looking out at a backyard rain garden full of greenery, flowers, and butterflies, with the Philadelphia skyline in the background.

We’ve been singing from the social media rooftops about how taking Rain Check workshops during the cold season is a smart way to get a project set up in time for spring or summer.

And since people are on the hunt for holiday steals, we thought this would be a good time to tell you what a great deal Philly residents can get on rain gardens, one the most cost-effective tools for residential sustainable stormwater management, throughout the year.

Here’s how it works: PWD will contribute $16 per square foot towards your rain garden, up to a maximum of $2,000, and you pay the rest. After our subsidy is applied, most Rain Check participants—nearly 60 percent—pay less than $400 for their new rain garden.

That’s under $400 bucks for a fully installed, custom-built garden designed by Sustainable Business Network-certified professional contractors using a palette of native plants selected by the renowned Pa. Horticultural Society.

Here’s the full breakdown for what Rain Check participants have spent on out-of-pocket for a rain garden:


While this is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday special, right now really is the ideal time to start your rain garden by taking one of our free workshops, which is the required first step for all Rain Check projects. Hosted by our PHS partners all over the city several times a month, the quick workshop is like a crash course on stormwater and sewer overflows—the biggest local pollution source impacting our rivers and creeks—and how we are taking on the challenge with Green City, Clean Waters.

Just like the rain gardens we build in parks and on vacant lots, residential rain gardens created through Rain Check work by soaking up runoff from hard surfaces like roofs and driveways. By keeping that stormwater from hitting the sewers, we reduce the volume of flow in sewers and make overflows less likely. The water in your rain garden is filtered by the soil and absorbed by the plants, many of them excellent pollinator species whose flowers help sustain butterflies and honey bees.

On top of helping our rivers and adding some healthy habitats to the urban fabric, you get a beautifully designed piece of landscape added to your property, something that stands out compared to a plain lawn.

Starting to think you want in but are worried you don’t have space?

You can take a quiz on our website that will help you determine if a rain garden is a good fit for your property, and a contractor will make the final determination after evaluating your site. In our experience, participants are often pleasantly surprised to learn that a large yard isn’t required to build one of these stormwater-fighting green tools.

Even if you end up not going for a rain garden, Rain Check has other great deals, like free rain barrels and flower-filled downspout planters that start at just $100, including plants and installation.

Learn more about rain gardens – check out our video about these special green tools: