In order to solve the problem of run-off pollution, some cities are focusing in on landscape materials; namely, by encouraging homeowners to “rainscape” their existing landscapes. St. Louis County, Missouri, is now offering monetary incentives to homeowners who rainscape their landscapes by installing native permeable vegetation and other modifications. Officials say rainscaping will stem the flow of residential runoff into watershed tributaries.

Homeowners in 14 municipalities who participate in the RainScape Rebate Program are eligible for payouts between $500 and $2,000 per household. The Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, the public/nonprofit environmental partnership sponsoring the program, has budgeted $200,000 to fund the incentives.

Rainscaping, however, isn’t without its drawbacks. Robert Broz, the director of the Water Quality Program at the University of Missouri, says, “People need to be aware that a rain garden does require maintenance. The upfront money figure might sound good. But you need to invest time and money to make sure it functions for a long time.”

Alliance officials hope the rain gardens appearing in yards across St. Louis County will spark the next phase of environmental awareness.