Rain Gardens in the Street in Arlington

Rain Gardens in the Street in Arlington

More than meets the eye.

Graphic by Mary Kate Reicherter/The Connection


Rain garden in Williamsburg Boulevard at North Harrison Street.

Rain gardens in the streets (or, in county government parlance, “green streets”) are vegetated areas in the public right of way that reduce the volume of stormwater and of stormwater pollutants that enter local streams.

They are found between the sidewalk and the curb or in the street median. As illustrated in the accompanying graphic, runoff is gathered, filtered by soil and plants and permitted to soak into the ground or to pass into the stormwater drains. Designed to empty within 48 hours, insect breeding is avoided.

Quarterly maintenance visits involve weeding, pruning, plant replacement, removal of polluted soil, cleanout of sediment and litter and inspection of under-drains and overflow intakes. Only native plants that tolerate both wet and dry conditions, and ones consistent with street safety, are selected. Special attention in planning gives assurance that no seepage will affect houses and no safety hazard is created to endanger children. The only identifiable downside is that some on-street parking spaces could be lost.

Projects Completed And Planned

John Marshall Drive between Williamsburg Boulevard and Little Falls Road: Complete

North Kensington Street between 32nd and 33rd Streets North: Complete

Patrick Henry Drive between 20th and 21st Streets North: Complete

Williamsburg Boulevard at North Harrison Street: Complete

Williamsburg Boulevard between Old Dominion Drive and 35th Street North: Complete

13th Street North at Kirkwood Road: Complete

South Walter Reed Drive at 5th Street South: In planning

South Walter Reed Drive at 9th Street South: In planning

22nd Street North at North Kentucky Street: In planning

North Oakland Street: In planning

North Pershing Drive at North Oakland Street: In planning

For details of a project in your neighborhood, contact Christin Jolicoeur, 703-228-3588.

Private Property Reimbursement Program

In addition to rain gardens on public property, Arlington County will share the cost of selected private property projects with the same objective of reducing runoff. It is called the StormwaterWise Landscapes Program.

Four types of work are included: conservation landscapes; pavement removal; pervious surfaces; and rain gardens. A list of pre-qualified contractors to install the approved projects is available. From the many applicants, 40 residential owners were selected by lottery for the current year. Reimbursements up to $1,000 or $1,500 or even $2,500 are possible, depending on the particular project.

For details, contact Aileen Winquist at 703-228-3610.