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Rain Guardians is a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) volunteer program that enables San Francisco residents to “adopt” a rain garden in their neighborhood and guard it from trash and debris.

The SFPUC is building rain gardens in each of San Francisco's eight urban watersheds to help manage stormwater. To learn more about our City's watersheds and these projects visit www.sfwater.org/sfwatersheds




Why Are Rain Gardens Important?

Rain gardens are a green infrastructure feature that take advantage of the natural processes of soils and plants in order to slow down and clean stormwater and keep it from overwhelming the City's sewer system. They also provide multiple co-benefits such as habitat improvements, bicycle and pedestrian safety and neighborhood beautification. Rain gardens are part of the City’s initiative to manage 1 billion gallons of stormwater through green infrastructure by 2050.

Why Is There Trash And Debris In Rain Gardens?

Rain gardens are typically depressed below the street level so that stormwater can easily flow in and be treated by the soils and plants instead of flowing into our sewers. This also means they have a tendency to collect debris and trash year-round.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Rain Guardian?

The program’s goal is to engage residents and businesses to take an active role in caring for and improving the neighborhood where they live and work. A Rain Guardians is responsible for removing trash and debris and reporting issues, such as significant damage or hazardous materials to 311. The City’s maintenance crews are responsible for other activities, such as weeding and replacing damaged plants/soils. The plants in soils in a rain garden are specially designed and chosen to manage stormwater – PLEASE DO NOT WEED OR PLANT YOUR OWN PLANTS IN THE RAIN GARDENS. Check out our Rain Guardians Guide for more information.

What Do I Need To Clean My Garden?

We recommend that Rain Guardians use the following supplies to clean their gardens safely:

  • Gloves
  • Bright and/or reflective clothing
  • Trash picker
  • Appropriate receptacle for trash (plastic bag or compost bag)

How Do I Get Supplies?

The SFPUC will provide a rain guardians safety vest, gloves and trash picker for each rain garden adopter (one per guardian). Please visit the Community Page to see a list of upcoming events where you can pick up your tools.

What Do I Do With The Trash I've Collected?

It is the responsibility of the Rain Guardian to find a proper receptacle to throw away trash and debris.

What Do I Do If I Find Dog Poop Or Other Objects/materials I Don't Want To Pick Up, But Aren't A 311 Hazard?

If there is something you don’t want to pickup that doesn’t require immediate disposal, leave it, work around it and wait for our maintenance crews to handle on one of their regular visits. 

How Often Do I Need To Clean A Rain Garden?

Our maintenance team cleans the gardens on a quarterly basis. We recommend you clean your garden at least twice between their visits, but the frequency of your cleaning routine depends on the accumulation of trash and your own aesthetics. Once you sign up, you’ll receive periodic email notifications prior to large storms to clean your rain gardens.

How Do I Adopt A Rain Garden?

It’s easy! Just select a rain garden on the home page map and fill out the registration information.

Can I Un-adopt A Rain Garden?

We understand life happens and commitments change. If at anytime you wish to un-adopt a rain garden, you can do so through your account's Dashboard and make it available for another neighbor to adopt.

Shouldn’t The City Clean The Rain Gardens?

The City is responsible for maintaining the stormwater management functionality of the rain gardens. The SFPUC will be making quarterly maintenance visits to the rain gardens to ensure functionality. This frequency strikes a balance between stormwater management performance and maintaining ratepayer affordability. In the next five years there will be more than 350 rain gardens the SFPUC will operate and maintain. In addition to rain gardens, the SFPUC operates and maintains 25,000+ storm drains and 1,000 miles of combined sewer pipes, cleaning between 5,000-9,000 catch basins each year.

Can I Help Protect Rain Gardens In My Neighborhood If I Haven’t Adopted A Rain Garden?

Yes! You do not need to “adopt a rain garden” to become a rain guardian. Please report sewer emergencies or service problems such as clogged catch basins, standing water that lasts more than 48 hours, street flooding, sewer backups, or wastewater odors to the City’s Customer Service Center, 311 on the web/smart phone (or dial 3-1-1). You can always protect your local green street by following the best practices outlined in the Green Street brochure. (English, Chinese, Spanish).

How Many Rain Gardens Can I Adopt?

There is no limit to the number of gardens you can adopt, but we encourage you to leave some gardens for your neighbors to adopt and be part of the Rain Guardians team!

How Do I Name My Rain Garden

To name your adopted rain garden please follow the steps below:

1. Log into your Rain Guardian account
2. Select the Dashboard from the menu bar at the top of the page

3. Select My Garden from the tool bar to the left

4. Click Name Your Garden Now

How Do I File A 311 Report Online?

To file an online 311 report for an issue at a rain garden, follow these steps.

Step 1: Visit Rainguardians.org and log into your account. 

Step 2: Navigate to the Rain Guardians map on the homepage and select the rain garden that you would like to file the 311 report for.

Step 3: On the rain garden pop-up click the Report a Problem button on the left-hand side.

Step 4: Fill in the 311 report with garden name, the type of issue you are reporting, and any detailed observations or photos of the issue. Select send and a case will be automatically created and sent to city officials to be addressed.

Step 5: To check on the status of your filed 311 report navigate to your Dashboard and select 311 Reports from the list. Here you will be able to see the status of all 311 reports that you have filed.

How Do I Join The Waitlist For A Rain Garden?

To join the waitlist for a rain garden that has already been adopted, follow these steps.

Step 1: Visit Rainguardians.org and log into your account.

Step 2: Navigate to the Rain Guardians map at the bottom of the home page and select the rain garden that you are interested in adopting.

Step 3: If the rain garden has already been adopted there will be an option on the pop up to Join The Waitlist. Click this button and you will be automatically added to a waitlist for this garden.

Step 4:Once the garden becomes available all users on the waitlist will receive an email notification. This will prompt you to follow a link and adopt the rain garden. It is important to act fast as all users will have the option to adopt and the garden cannot be held for one user.

How Do I Log A Rain Garden Cleaning?

To log a cleaning at your adopted rain garden, follow these steps. 

Step 1: Visit Rainguardians.org and log onto your account.

Step 2: Navigate to either the Rain Guardians Map or your Dashboard. 

Step 3: If on the Rain Guardians map, select the rain garden you wish to log the cleaning for and click the Log Garden Cleaning button on the pop up.

If on your Dashboard you can log a garden cleaning from the My Garden list or on the Garden Activity Log. Select Log Garden Activity or Add New and fill in the activity log form with the date of cleaning and site observations.

Step 4: If you took before and after photos of your rain garden cleaning upload them to the Before and After Image sections. You will be able to use these later to generate a Garden Clean-up Capture.

Step 5: Submit your activity log and view on the Garden Activity Log section of your Dashboard. If you made a mistake you can delete your entry and start over. Please do not delete old entries as these are our record of activity.

How Do I Create A Garden Clean-up Capture?

To Create a Garden Clean-up Capture image, follow these steps. 

Step 1: Visit Rainguardians.org and log onto your account 

Step 2: Navigate to your Dashboard and select the Garden Activity Log.

Step 3: Identify which rain garden cleaning log you would like to merge photos from and click the Share Your Work button.

Step 5: Click the before and after image that you would like to merge for the Garden Clean-up Capture and select Generate Image.

Step 6: Select Share with rain Guardians to post the photo to share to your public profile. Select Share on Facebook to post to your Facebook page.

How Do I Enable/disable My Rain Guardian Profile Page?

To enable or disable your rain guardian public profile page, follow these steps. 

Step 1: Visit Rainguardians.org and log onto your account.

Step 2: Navigate to your Dashboard and select User Information.

Step 3: Find the Public Profile section at the bottom of the User Information page and select Enable or Disable then submit. This will enable to disable your public profile which you can see by selecting the social Profile tab from the Dashboard list.