So, what is a rain garden?
Puyallup is offering grants for residents to plant rain gardens and build greener infrastructure.
The program started in 2009 and has helped Puyallup put more than 20 million gallons of stormwater into the ground rather than Puget Sound, said the city’s senior engineer, Paul Marrinan.
One of the Sound’s top sources of toxic pollution comes from stormwater runoff, according to Washington’s Department of Ecology. When runoff isn’t soaked up by the ground, it travels along streets and sewers, where it picks up oil from cars and chemicals from man-made materials and development.
The program focuses on creating greener infrastructure through rain gardens, permeable pavement and rain barrels, all of which put stormwater back into the ground, filtering out toxins and reducing flow rates.
Dan and Cheryl Comsia have had stormwater nourishing their front and back yards since 2016. It cost them about $2,500 to excavate the yard, and Puyallup picked up $1,000 for materials, including piping, and native plants like lavender.
“It was an easy step for us in making a bit of a difference,” Cheryl Comsia said.
Puyallup already helped to fund 63 rain gardens, where runoff flows into shallow, sunken plant beds; 22 permeable pavements, to ensure water reaches the earth beneath concrete; and 34 rain barrels to collect stormwater for lawn and garden use.
“You don’t see too often the city giving up money without strings attached,” Marrinan said.
The Comsias have pipes running from their roof, down the house, underneath the ground and into a soil mix with enough compost and organics to support plant life. The front yard is full of grasses, herbs and flowers.
Puyallup will pay up to $1,000 toward rain garden materials, one rain barrel and up to 50 percent of permeable pavements up to $7,500. A homeowner could get up to $8,625 in reimbursement, Marrinan said. The city assesses property to determine which programs are feasible, and tests the property’s absorption.
For more information or to apply, check out the city’s website.