Isanti Soil & Water Conservation District


Residential Landowners

Urban and residential areas offer a unique conservation challenge. Rain water that once was able to soak into the ground in a forest or on the prairie now hits hard surfaces such as pavement, rooftops and compacted soils and runs off of the land as stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff often flows over these hard surfaces and directly into a nearby lake, river or a nearby stormdrain. Along the way, the rain picks up pollutants such as fertilizer, sediment, pet waste, and chemicals from vehicles. These pollutants reduce the health of lakes and rivers and the plants and animals that need clean water to survive. Reduced water health can also impact lakeshore values, recreational opportunities, fishing and aesthetics. The best way to keep our waters clean is by making sure that the stormwater running into them is clean.

What can you do to reduce stormwater runoff?

As a homeowner, you can help avoid the problems associated with stormwater runoff by:

  • Reducing impervious areas (i.e. hard surfaces such as sidewalks, roads, patios, etc….) so that rain soaks into the ground.
  • Planting native trees and plants. They help infiltrate stormwater and increase evapotranspiration.
  • Manager your own stormwater using rain gardens, rain barrels, and other similar practices.

The SWCD may be able to provide technical assistance to make recommendations for or to design a project to reduce rainwater runoff from your property.  We may also have funding available to assist with the costs of installing a project.

Rain Gardens:  You can do it!  A rain garden is simply a garden that is placed in a shallow depression in the ground and planted with native plants that like to get their feet wet.  The depression collects and allows stormwater runoff to slowly infiltrate into the soil (they mimic what rain did before humans changed the landscape).  Native plants, mulch and soil in the rain garden naturally remove pollutants contained in the stormwater.

Here is a recently installed rain garden on Green Lake.  Check back next summer to see how much the plants have grown!

Green Lake Rain Garden 1  Green Lake Rain Garden 2

A rain garden will

  • Filter water to remove sediment and pollutants.
  • Allow water to soak into the ground(they mimic what rain did before humans changed the landscape).
  • Reduce the volume of water going into the stormwater system (otherwise, stormwater is not treated before it enters rivers, lakes and streams).
  • Create wildlife habitat—use recommend using ONLY plants that are native to Minnesota.

Where to put your rain garden

  • Near a downspout
  • Near a driveway, road, or sidewalk
  • At the base of a slope


Benefits of a Rain Garden

  • Insects, birds, and other wildlife will feed, rest, or live in the garden (think pollinators!).
  • Drought resistant plants will look great all summer long, even when turfgrass is dormant from lack of water.
  • There is no need to fertilize native plants because they are adapted t our conditions and will grow well without it.
  • Where there is a garden, there is not mowing!

Helpful Resources for Rain Garden Information

Blue Thumb:  Public/private partnership that makes it easy for you to plan, purchase and plant rain gardens!

City of Isanti Rain Garden Incentive Program: this site has City specific program information and general information about planning and planting a rain garden.

University of Wisconsin Extension Rain Garden How-to Manual for Homeowners:

Rain Barrels are another way to use rainfall in your yard

A rain barrel is any type of container that collects and stores rain water from your roof that would otherwise run off into storm drains that flow directly into nearby lakes, streams and wetlands.  Rain barrels typically hold 50 to 100 gallons of water than can be used on your lawn or flower garden.  Rain barrels reduce the amount of stormwater runoff by collecting roof runoff and storing the rain water for future use.

Rain barrels are placed underneath shortened downspouts; thus, they divert roof runoff into the barrel.   Water collected in the rain barrel can be used to water lawns and flower gardens.

Benefits of a rain barrel:

  • They provide an alternative to tap water for watering lawns and flower gardens.
  • Reduce runoff that can carry pollutants into lakes and rivers.
  • They will help reduce peak water demands during the summer months.

Where to purchase rain barrels:

Mille Lacs SWCD:

Mills Fleet Farm:

Home Depot:

You can also make your own, find out how here:

Other Best Management Practices for Stormwater Infiltration:

Rain Garden Information

Rain Garden Incentive Program - City of Isanti

The City of Isanti views rain gardens as a powerful tool to manage stormwater, as well as a great way to add aesthetic elements to residential lots. In order to encourage its residents to install rain gardens, the City of Isanti has the Residential Rain Garden Incentive Program. Program participants will be given tools for planning and implementing rain gardens on their property, and approved applicants will be reimbursed 50% of the cost, up to $500, for plants, soil, and other supplies to get the garden started.  Click here for more information.

2018 Annual Highlights

2018 was a busy year for Isanti SWCD. Click here to read all about our most recent Conservation programs and priorities. We would like to send out a special thank you to all our Federal,monitoring culvert sm State, and Local partners who support our mission to preserve, protect and enhance water quality, soil, and other natural resources in Isanti County. We’re already planning great things for 2019 including targeted agricultural outreach, lakeshore restorations on Green Lake, and conservation planning in the Lower St. Croix Watershed.