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Funding in Bayfield for rain gardens, soakaways

Rain gardens and soakaways in Bayfield eligible for grants in 2019


Bayfield residents eligible for grants for rain gardens and soakaways in 2019
Soakaways are added to Bayfield rain garden funding program in 2019

Bayfield residents have a chance to protect their lake, make their properties even more beautiful, and get grants to do it – by planting rain gardens or installing a soakaway.   

New to the program this year are soakaways. Soakaways are similar to rain gardens in that they collect water from downspouts and/or rain barrels. The main difference is that rain gardens are filled with a sand/compost mix, and soakaways are filled with stone or stormwater crates. Soakaways can be used in tight spaces, or locations that are not suitable for plants. 

“By capturing stormwater in rain gardens or soakaways, homeowners can help with localized flooding as rain gardens and soakaways can actually absorb more water than a grassed lawn,” said Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation.

Local people suggested rain gardens, in the community-based Main Bayfield Watershed Plan, as a management solution for dealing with urban runoff, said Brock. “Now homeowners have this great opportunity to install a rain garden, or a soakaway, and help protect Lake Huron,” she said. 

Bayfield homeowners interested in receiving funding to create a rain garden or soakaway on their property should contact a local landscape professional who has received a Landscape Ontario endorsed rain garden certificate. To find a list of some of these local contractors, visit the Ausable Bayfield Conservation website at or contact Hope Brock at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

Once the contractor has provided a plan and a quote for the garden, the homeowner will need to contact Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff for a site visit to complete the application, which is available online at

Grants, subject to approval, are paid out upon satisfactory completion of the rain garden or soakaway. Homeowners can apply for funding without a contractor but preference is given to the applications that use a certified contractor.

A single downspout rain garden typically costs between $1,000 and $3,000, but will vary on the size of the garden. Soakaways are typically less than $1,000. Bayfield homeowners can receive up to 50 per cent of the cash costs to a maximum of $500. The Huron County Clean Water Project and the Municipality of Bluewater, through its Blue Flag initiative, have provided funding.

Rain gardens are shallow, sunken gardens. They collect, absorb and filter runoff and help prevent polluted runoff from reaching storm sewers and, ultimately, the lake. Rain gardens are low-maintenance gardens that can be designed to match existing landscaping, formal gardens or natural gardens. Homeowners can choose plants specifically to attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators. 

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