Using a Sustainable Approach in Your Landscape Conversion

The Landscape Transformation Program requires the inclusion of a rainwater capture or filtration system integrated into the landscape project. This sustainable approach integrated into the overall landscape design serves to reduce rainwater runoff onto sidewalks and streets and capture rainwater for reuse. The following are details of some eligible methods to meet this participation requirement.

Rain Garden

A rain garden is a planted depression or hole that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas to be absorbed. Storm water is soaked into the ground rather than flowing into storm drains and surface waters. Installation of a rain garden within your landscape project can reduce erosion, pollution, flooding and diminished groundwater.

Rock Garden

A rock garden is a garden laid out among rocks or decorated with rocks and adapted for the growth of particular kinds of plants. A rock garden is designed to allow plants to grow between the rocks.


A swale is a shallow ditch that has gently sloping sides. A swale relies on gravity to move water and is designed to direct the water where you want it to go, such as flower or vegetable gardens. A swale also limits surface runoff while trapping silt and pollutants. For more information on how swales work and can be used in your landscape design, please view the provided video.

Dry River Bed

A dry river bed or dry stream is an area designed to slow heavy flows of water from rainfall and correct erosion problems. It is made up of a shallow swale (see section on swales) lined with stone substantial enough to withstand a serious downpour. Large chunks of stone are used to slow the speed of storm water and prevent erosion. In a garden, the careful placement of water-worn stone, or river slicks along a swale can be a beautiful design that also provides an ideal place for plants. The swale should be fed by an underground pipe that is fed by a catchment. Please view the video on dry river beds for more information on implementation of this design in your project.


Berms are mounds of earth with sloping sides that are located between areas of approximately the same elevation. Berms are designed to direct or redirect in order to keep water from flowing off the property. For more information on berms and how they can be used in your landscape design, please view the provided video.


Grades are surface grading of an area so that water collects and flows to a lower elevation away from the water collection site. Regardless of surface characteristics, when planning to add a grade for surface drainage, slope is the most important consideration. For efficient drainage, paved surfaces should have a minimum 1 percent slope. Turf or landscaped areas should have a minimum of 2 percent slope. For more information and effective utilization of grades in your project, please view the provided video.

Rain Barrels/Cisterns

Rain barrels and cisterns are storage tanks that capture runoff water from a catchment area such as a rooftop. Cisterns are a larger version of rain barrels, with a larger capacity for rainwater collection and storage. Rain barrels and cisterns must both be connected properly to installed rain gutters and downspouts. The property must have existing gutters around the full perimeter of the roof and existing downspouts for adequate water collection. Installed rain barrels must meet all local and regional requirements. Newly purchased rain barrels may qualify for an additional rebate. Please visit the residential devices page for qualifications. Existing rain barrels and cisterns will qualify provided that they have been properly installed.