Lawn & Garden


Rain Gardens 

Rain gardens are beautiful landscaped beds that help to capture stormwater and allow it to soak into the ground. The garden is a shallow bowl planted with plants that don’t mind to get wet feet and help to filter out pollutants.

We create stormwater run-off with our buildings, streets, and parking lots. When we drain our properties without caring where the water goes, our streams start to suffer. When a stream receives too much run-off too fast it will become muddy, develop eroded banks, and loose wildlife. In our urban areas, combined sewers discharge raw sewage into our Lake when they are overwhelmed by heavy storms. Rain gardens are a great way to reduce our run-off while creating curb appeal!

Rain gardens can be designed in all shapes and sizes to fit all soil types, sun or shade. Check out this Rain Garden Manual on how to get started. If you have questions, do not forget to give us a call!

No! Rain gardens are designed to be dry in 24-48 hours or less after a storm. Mosquitoes need 7 days of standing water to reproduce.

The Erie Conservation District has installed several rain gardens around Erie County. Even some of the staff have one! Not only to they help to reduce run-off, they also attract lots of wildlife like finches, frogs, turtles, butterflies, and even fox! But don’t just believe us, check out this study done in Burnsville Minnesota where over 90% of run-off was reduced in a small neighborhood street. Burnsville Rain Garden Project Report

Rain Garden Tutorial by Old Woman Creek

Rain Barrels

Over 40% of annual municipal water usage is used outside the home to water our plants and lawns while we also drain most of our free rainwater away. Sound crazy? Instead let’s harvest that free rainwater from our downspouts to use on a sunny day.

Saves you money– Cut down on your water bill by harvesting the rain for a sunny day. Best of all, its FREE!

Helps to reduce flooding– Every drop held back in barrels is less that can overwhelm our storm sewers.

It’s good for our streams and Lake Erie -Many of our streams are in trouble from too much stormwater flowing to them too fast. By holding back some of the stormwater run-off, our streams flood less and the potential for pollution is lessened.

Learn more by downloading our Rainbarrel Fact Sheet.

618 Rain Barrels Made Since 2008!

This hands-on workshop provides all the tools and supplies to build your very own rain barrel. Join us for a fun hour of learning, building, teamwork, and laughs. Several workshops are held each year from April to June. The cost is $45. Contact us to register or be added to our wait list.

Mosquitoes need 7 days of standing water to complete their life cycle, so yes, this can be a problem if not managed properly. There are several ways of dealing with mosquitoes – chemical means (“dunks” or something similar), biological means with goldfish (make sure the barrel is not in full sun), or physical means with vegetable/seed oil (suffocates larvae) or mild dish soap (breaks the surface tension so adults drown before they lay eggs). Make sure you repeat this every time there is a storm when your barrel overflows.

Yes! To paint your rain barrel, thoroughly clean the outside of the barrel and wipe down with alcohol. Then apply a minimum of 2 coats of made-for-plastic primer. Once dry, you can use acrylic or house paint to create your masterpiece.


The problem with soil is we treat it like dirt.   Soil is the living skin of the earth, containing more life in one teaspoon than all the people on earth!

Healthy soil grows our food, filters our water, and controls our weather and climate. But our soil is in trouble and needs our help. Years of tillage, compaction, mixing of top and subsoil, and underfeeding our soil has damaged our soil which makes us more dependent on fertilizers and herbicides.

Dig a Little Deeper


Compost decomposed organic material such as yard waste and food scraps that is an important part of a healthy soil. Composts helps to hold nutrient and water, stabilize temperatures and pH to grow healthy plants.


  • Browns – This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens – This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  • Water – Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.

Yard waste and food scraps make up about 20-30% of what gets thrown away. Composting not only helps us reduce what heads to the landfill it also can be returned to our yards for healthier gardens, lawns, and flowerbeds.

Whether you purchase a bin or just make a pile, make sure you have near equal amounts of “browns” and “greens”.   Pick a location that is dry and close to a water source. A great time to start a compost pile is in the fall when you have plenty of leaves (browns) to mix with yard waste and food scraps (greens). Your pile should start to heat up fast and will need to be turned periodically to aerate. Check out for more tips from Professor Rot including a troubleshooting guide.

You can compost indoors! Vermicomposting (small bins with worms) are a great alternative to small scale composting indoors that is much quicker than larger outdoor piles. Once again check out Professor Rots info on getting started at