Fund Opens Up Affordable Rain Gardens For Homeowners

Volunteers with Hui o Ko'olaupoko complete plantings at a demonstration rain garden, installed in 2011 at Heeia State Park. Photo from Todd Cullison.

Every day, surface water slips from the earth into Kaneohe Bay, carrying with it the pollutants from the land.

Rain gardens in people’s yards can stem the flow, and Hui o Ko’olaupoko is looking for new gardeners to join the effort.

“They are a great project for individual homeowners to help protect stream and ocean health from residential pollution,” said Todd Cullison, executive director of the nonprofit hui. And he has some funds to help make it happen.

The Rain Garden Co-op and Cost Share Program helps homeowners install their own rain gardens and

help their neighbors do the same. The result, Cullison said, is less stormwater runoff, better landscaping and reduced construction costs.

A rain garden is a flat-bottomed depression planted with native vegetation, which is used to capture excess stormwater and pollutants from rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots or streets. In March of 2011, the hui installed a demonstration garden at Heeia State Park, which visitors can check out for themselves. It has grown lush with plants and requires little maintenance time, Cullison said, making it an effective, low-cost tool to fight water pollution.

Grant support is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and from the state’s Clean Water Branch, Polluted Control Runoff Fund. Deadline to apply for the rain garden project is Feb. 15. Interested homeowners may call Cullison at 277-5611 or email

The website has further details at