Residential Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are an attractive, low-maintenance way to reduce individual impacts on water quality while attracting birds and butterflies. These bowl-shaped flower beds capture and soak in roof runoff, reducing the amount of polluted runoff draining to local waterways.

Scroll down to see pictures of rain gardens we’ve helped homeowners install.

Design by Jamie Stamberger

Design by Jamie Stamberger

rain garden raffle winner

Design by Jamie Stamberger

Rain garden

Design by Jamie Stamberger.

rain garden

Design by Kate Hibschman.

Rain garden

Design by Eva Birk.

rain garden

Design by Jamie Stamberger.

rain garden

Design by Eva Birk.

rain garden

Design by Keri Handaly and Gabby Fraley.

Behavior Change Programs

rain garden volunteers

We understand that behavior change starts at the roots, with an understanding of community values and an assessment of local needs and interests.  Stamberger Outreach staff work with community members and leaders to create programs that improve environmental health and provide desired public services. 

Our experience with Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) techniques allows us to assess local barriers and benefits to environmentally friendly behaviors and work with communities to overcome them.

We use individualized technical assistance, menus of services providing options for everyone, pledges and other strategies to create change, collect behavior change data, and analyze the effectiveness of our programs.

Our use of CBSM techniques has changed behavior and provided useful services to residents through programs like:

  • Residential rain garden grants
  • Stream restoration partnerships with private property owners
  • Demonstration gardens at schools
  • Natural gardening technical assistance home visits
  • Rain garden raffles and neighborhood installation days, to name a few.

lawn signs encourage behavior changeThe City of Gresham’s Healthy Streams Program gives a good example of our work with behavior change programs.

While working for the City of Gresham Watershed Division, Jamie Stamberger of Stamberger Outreach co-managed the Healthy Streams Program (HSP), including program development, implementation, reporting and procuring two grants to fund program implementation.

The program was supported by the City of Gresham and by grants from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and Metro Nature in Neighborhoods.

The HSP sought to reduce surface water pollution through a menu of services to residents, including free at-home natural gardening consultations, free downspout disconnection parts and labor, free trees, and $200 rain garden grants.  Surveys and statistical analysis were used to determine program effectiveness.

Click Here to read the Healthy Streams Program Detailed Report.

Highlights of Program Results:

  • Hosted and/or facilitated 57 workshops and/or community events (1310 estimated total contacts), placed ads in local news publications, advertised through community partners, sent multiple direct mail invitations, and canvassed 1,000 homes to encourage participation in the HSP (562 HSP participants).
  • During natural gardening visits, residents were offered free start up materials and asked to pledge to lawn and garden maintenance behaviors that will help improve water quality.
  • 161 homes received technical assistance visits, and 1247 native plants, 97 compost bins, and 124 backyard habitat structures were provided as incentives to try new sustainable behaviors.  Participants also pledged to begin or continue 1029 watershed friendly behaviors on their property.
  • A 2012 survey of visit recipients shows that 49% of participants reduced or eliminated their use since receiving their visit.
  • 433 homes recieved downspout disconnection assessments, 63 homes had downspout disconnection work done
  • 109 free trees were provided
  • 56 rain garden grant pre-qualification visits were conducted
  • 11 $200 residential rain garden grants were issued
  • 44 residents attended rain garden workshops
  • 11 residents participated in a Healthy Lawns Event demonstrating natural non-toxic lawn care
  • Outreach methods employed in the HSP successfully garnered greater than 30% participation in two of three study neighborhoods.

Workshops and Community Events

table at eventAt Stamberger Outreach, we believe people learn new things through hands-on experience, social interactions, and examples we set for each other, as well as traditional classroom lectures. 

We are experts at bringing communities together to learn from and encourage each other to make changes that benefit the environment and the livability of shared neighborhoods.  We use Community Based Social Marketing techniques at our workshops and other community events to increase participation and public awareness, gain commitments to trying out new behaviors, create new social norms and collect behavior change data to make our programs more effective.

Our experience with watershed friendly gardening workshops and community events includes:

  • Developing and teaching workshops to encourage environmentally friendly gardening practices, including rain gardening, naturescaping, natural lawn care, natural pest control, downspout disconnection and backyard wildlife habitat
  • Coordinating neighborhood rain garden raffles, bike tours, and installation block parties to raise awareness of rain gardens and bring neighbors together to learn about rain gardens hands-on
  • Scheduling, coordinating and advertising events, including direct mailings, newpaper and online advertisement, sponsors, donations, catering, door-prizes and raffles, etc.
  • Coordinating and leading volunteer tree planting, invasive weed removal and other restoration maintenance activities
  • School assemblies and presentations and hands-on stewardship events, including large-scale Earth Day events
  • Coordinating large-scale neighborhood block parties including landscaping tours, scavenger hunts, vendors and tables from other organizations
  • Presenting and tabling at community events including neighborhood association meetings, information fairs, farmers’ markets, garden club meetings, and other community group events

See our Schools and Service Learning Page for more examples of our community engagement projects.

rain garden tour

Jamie leads residents on a tour of local rain gardens.

workshop activity

Jamie demonstrates a soil drainage test.

Stream Restoration

Students from Mt. Hood Community College plant trees along Fairview Creek.Stamberger Outreach staff have experience designing and implementing stream-side restoration projects in urban and suburban environments.  We believe local community engagement and education is imperative to the success of any restoration project.

We understand barriers to creating partnerships on private property and have worked with both individual and group landowners to gain support for projects and engage neighborhoods in weed removal, tree planting and maintenance activities.  Jamie Stamberger’s strong background in Pacific Northwest ecology, including native and invasive plant identification, removal and propagation, provides the biological basis for project success.

Jamie’s experience includes managing the Kelly Creek and Fairview Creek Stream Side Restoration Projects for the City of Gresham from 2006 to 2012.

Highlights of these projects include:

    • Partnered with 40 adjacent stream-side property owners on Kelly Creek and 25 on Fairview Creek to conduct work on their properties, educate about watershed health and goals of the project, and provide tools and information to help residents maintain their properties in a more watershed friendly way
    • Removed invasive weeds on 7 acres of City and private property along Kelly Creek, and 1 acre along Fairview Creek
    • Installed over 15,000 native trees, shrubs and ground cover plants near Kelly Creek, and 2,000 near Fairview Creek to provide wildlife habitat, reduce erosion, and provide cooling shade
    • Conducted weed maintenance multiple times per year, and replanted where necessary
    • Hired, trained and managed AmeriCorps field teams, nearby homeowners, and community groups to conduct field work
    • Held volunteer events at the each site each year, including service learning events with local schools
    • Held two block parties in the Kelly Creek neighborhood – homeowners gave tours of the project behind their homes to their neighbors.

Visit our School and Service Learning Page for examples of community engagement in restoration projects.

Restoration site two years after invasive weed removal and native plantings.  Site was entirely covered with invasive blackberry weeds.

Restoration site two years after.

AmeriCorps volunteers Katie Boyd, Laura Barrow and Eva Birk plant trees along Fairview Creek in the snow.

AmeriCorps volunteers plant trees along Fairview Creek.

stream restoration

Volunteers plant trees along Fairview Creek.

Downspout Disconnection

yard signRunoff from roofs drains to street drains and underground pipes that carry it (and the pollution it picks up) to a local water body or water treatment plant.

Downspout disconnection allows roof runoff to soak into lawns or landscaping and recharge ground water, reducing water pollution and stress on local resources.

Stamberger Outreach Consulting is experienced at determining suitable locations for downspout disconnection and providing education and incentives to encourage this, and other, at-home stormwater management practices.

Jamie Stamberger of Stamberger Outreach managed a downspout disconnection pilot program for the City of Gresham Watershed Division in 2009 to reduce stormwater runoff to Gresham streams, and implemented the program on larger scale in 2010 and 2011.

This project reduced stormwater runoff to local streams by an estimated 2.8 million gallons per year.

  • worked with attorneys’ office and building department to develop safety standards and safety assessment protocols
  • worked with mapping department to create searchable downspout disconnection and rain garden suitability map for Gresham residents and multiple map-based program reports
  • worked with community relations department to develop and implement public relations strategies including direct mailers, web content, downspout disconnection how-t0 guidelines, yard signs, press releases
  • selected target neighborhoods for pilot project and subsequent disconnection program efforts
  • recruited and trained staff and volunteers for canvass, disconnection safety assessments and disconnection work
  • coordinated door-to-door canvasses
  • scheduled, coordinated and managed downspout disconnection work days and procurement of tools and materials
  • managed customer relations, including all phone and email inquiries
  • developed program reports and presented results internally and at regional conferences and meetings
  • AmeriCorps volunteers disconnect downspouts

Hollydale Elementary Rain Gardens

In 2008, Jamie Stamberger of Stamberger Outreach Worked with the City of Gresham Watershed Division, school district maintenance department, the principal, and school staff to gain approval and plan a rain garden and rain water harvesting demonstration project at Hollydale Elementary School.

The projects would serve as public demonstration gardens and would be featured in city outreach materials and on garden tours. Students helped plant the gardens and maintain them in perpetuity.

Hollydale Elementary rain garden project Phase I, before










The project included two phases, phase I pictured left included a rain garden off the playground to solve drainage issues and reduce runoff to the underground storm pipe system that leads to nearby Johnson Creek.

Both phases were funded by the city and grants from EMSWCD, Metro and ODEQ.  Planting plans and project management were done by AmeriCorps volunteer Katie Boyd, with oversight by Jamie Stamberger.

Project phase II was installed in the school Nature Leaders area used for school vegetable and habitat gardens. Phase II included a 2500 gallon rain water harvesting cistern that captured water from the school roof to provide a source of water for school gardens.  A rain garden was also installed to capture and soak in overflow from the cistern during winter months.  Gardens were planted with Nature Leader students and parent volunteers, specifically parent volunteer Julie Melton. (More photos below)

Phase II, before

Project Phase II, before

Spring 2009 - Garden is installed and receiving it's first rain.

Phase I, complete.

Fall 2009 - Phase II is complete and soaking in it's first rain.

Fall 2009 – Phase II complete and soaking in it’s first rain.









Demonstration Rain Gardens

From 2006 to 2012, Jamie Stamberger helped the City of Gresham Watershed Division encourage rain gardens by building demonstration projects in highly visible places.  She worked with property owners, volunteers and construction professionals to install attractive public amenities that met the needs of all parties involved.

Scroll down for demonstration project examples.

Garden design by Katie Boyd.


Covenant Presbyterian Church – Built in 2009 in response to interest from church grounds volunteer. Designed and installed by City of Gresham Watershed Division staff and AmeriCorps volunteers, and maintained by church staff and volunteers. Captures and infiltrates 28,000 gallons of runoff annually from 1,000 square feet of roof.

Supported by funds from EMSWCD and grants from DEQ and Metro.

Watershed Division staff and AmeriCorps volunteers.  Maintained by Snow Cap staff and volunteers. Captures and infiltrates 10,000 gallons of roof runoff per year.  Project managed by Jamie Stamberger.

Garden design by Kate Hibschman.











Snow Cap Charities – Rain garden installed in 2010.

Project built by Watershed Division staff and AmeriCorps volunteers and maintained by Snow Cap staff and volunteers.

Captures and infiltrates 10,000 gallons of roof runoff per year.

Funded by City of Gresham and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.

Garden design by Kate Hibschman.

Garden design by Kate Hibschman.

















St. Henry’s Church  – Rain garden installed 2012 near community garden to demonstrate rain water harvesting and rain gardens for overflow.

Designed at built by City of Gresham staff and AmeriCorps volunteers, and maintained by church volunteers.

Native plants and community garden fruit trees are featured in the garden design.

Interpretive signage encourages visitors to implement their own projects at home.

Project funded by City of Gresham, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, and Metro Nature in Neighborhoods.

West Gresham Elementary Rain Garden

Jamie Stamberger worked with City of Gresham staff, school teachers, principal and maintenance staff, the Parent Teacher Coalition, AmeriCorps volunteers, OSU 4-H, and students to install a rain garden in front of West Gresham Grade School.

Winter 2010 – rain garden area before excavation.


Runoff from the school roof ran down the driveway to a storm drain in the street, causing icy conditions for buses in winter, and carrying pollution and erosive volumes of storm water to nearby Johnson Creek.  High visibility along busy Powell Boulevard made  it a great location for a demonstration project.

This project was funded by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and the City of Gresham Watershed Division.

Bowl-shaped area excavated by City Stormwater Operations staff.

Garden size and shape were designed to provide safe overflow during very heavy rains and enough ponding area to handle average local storms, while providing for student safety, aesthetic concerns and protecting the large historic big leaf maple onsite. City of Gresham Stormwater Operations staff excavated and added soil amendments to improve drainage and fertilize newly installed plants. The school district hired a local contractor to re-route roof drains under driveway and to the rain garden.

Parent volunteers and students planted native plants.

Parents, teachers and students helped plant the rain garden with native plants that are tolerant of both drought and standing water. Jamie worked with a subset of those volunteers, the Rain Garden Team, to help design the garden and plan for its long term maintenance.

The planting plan was designed, drawn up and implemented on site by AmeriCorps volunteer Ben Morelli. On planting day, Jamie taught students about storm water runoff and how it impacts on Johnson Creek while they worked on their rain garden to help reduce impacts from their school.

Fall 2011 – Garden establishing and soaking in fall rains.

west gresham rain garden

Enter a caption

At one year old, plants are getting established, and soaking in spring rains.  This rain garden captures, filters and infiltrates an estimated 96,000 gallons of roof runoff from the school each year, reducing pollution in nearby Johnson Creek, and reducing icy conditions for buses and students.


















Gresham High School Rain Garden

In 2010, Jamie Stamberger worked with City of Gresham staff, high school principal, teachers and maintenance staff, and students to install a demonstration rain garden and improve an unsightly area on the school campus.

Project site before excavation, winter 2010.










This site on the high school campus along a busy street in Gresham was a highly visible target for vandalism. This project was funded by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and the City of Gresham Watershed Division. Garden size and shape to were designed to capture runoff from 1,000 square feet of roof and allow for safe overflow.

Excavating garden, spring 2011.

Excavating garden, spring 2011.











In spring 2011, Jamie worked with City of Gresham Operations staff to excavate and install soil amendment and bark dust.

Botany class plants garden.

Botany class plants garden.











The GHS Botany class competed to design garden planting plan. Jamie incorporated winning designs into one plan and helped class install them as part of their landscaping and native plants unit. Jamie also created a stormwater scavenger hunt on school grounds for students to identify sources of stormwater pollution and ideas for reducing it.  The classes and their teacher continue to maintain garden as part of their curriculum.

Established garden at one year old.

Established garden at one year old.










Jamie installed interpretive signage installed to educate passers-by, and a student group painted and installed a water-centered mural to discourage vandalism and help promote efforts to reduce water pollution.  The garden filters and absorbs an estimated 28,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year.

Return to the Rain Garden Projects page for more examples of our work.