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Rain Gardens United: A story of impact from 100In1Day Canada

What started as Rain Gardens of Danforth East Village, an intervention through 100In1Day in 2015, Rain Gardens United has helped build 31 rain gardens in Toronto neighbourhoods.

Participants in 100In1Day Toronto gather to help build a rain garden in a Toronto neighbourhood. Image: Kat Augustin
Image: Kat Augustin

Published on April 30, 2018

Rain gardens have immense benefits to residents, neighbourhoods and cities.

Marc Yamaguchi has been reaping the benefits of a rain garden on his own property since he built it in 2015.

“A rain garden prevents water from meandering back into my home, and instead feeds the plants,” Marc told the Toronto Star.

Not only do rain gardens beautify local streets, they build in resilience for cities to better cope with the effects of the changing climate.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a shallow depression planted with a variety of shrubs, grasses and other plants that can tolerate periods of flooding and drought. The rain garden is designed to capture filter stormwater.

Pollinator-friendly plants nurture and breathe biodiversity back into the neighbourhoods, especially helpful to those insect populations that have experienced rapid declines in their populations, such as bees and butterflies.

By placing rain gardens directly in the path of downspouts, they help reduce the burden on our city’s water infrastructure.

Another key incentive to building rain gardens for homeowners is that they limit the amount of water entering the local storm drain system, reducing the potential for flooding and drainage problems, but also decreasing the quantity of pollutants that run from our yards and roads into our waterways.

According to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, rain gardens can take in 30 per cent more water compared to regular lawns.

Residents pose in a rain garden for 100In1Day Toronto.

Rain Gardens United and 100In1Day Toronto

For all these reasons, Marc set out to plant a rain garden in his east Toronto neighbourhood as a part of 100In1Day Toronto in 2015.

"By putting in that rain garden, you are basically putting in a living sponge around your home and building a little line of defence that again really helps to offset the stormwater that flows in the lake with a great force," he told CBC.

Marc went on to win the Toronto Foundation’s Vital Innovation grant, which enabled him to transform 10 additional front yards in the Danforth East Village-East York neighbourhood by planting rain gardens.

He continued to use 100In1Day Toronto as a platform to help his mission of transforming his neighbourhood with rain gardens.

As part of 100In1Day Toronto in 2016, Marc led public walking tours, handing out toolkits on rain gardens to people who wanted to transform their yards.

Marc and Rain Gardens United continue to have big plans for their neighbourhood, and Toronto.

Marc told the Toronto Star that he wants Toronto to incentivize rain gardens so more residents can build them in their yards.

“If we can inspire others to start building rain gardens across Toronto, we can convince the City to develop a program akin to the current basement flooding protection subsidy,” reads the mission on the Rain Gardens United website.

Do you have an idea for a project in your city? 100In1Day Canada is back for its biggest year yet, being led in 12 cities across the country. Check out and learn how you can lead an intervention on June 2, 2018.