Friends of the Arboretum (FOA) is proud to sponsor the first “Grass-To-Garden” initiative!  As an organization, FOA’s mission is to build positive relationships between people and the land through support of the UW–Madison Arboretum. We are excited to continue our mission with this initiative, by donating three rain garden kits to community members in 2022. This page provides information on the Grass-To-Garden program, what the rain garden contains, who can/should apply, and what to expect if you are selected.  The bottom contains a link to the application form.  TO BE CONSIDERED, APPLICATION FORMS ARE DUE MARCH 25, 2022.

What is the Grass-To-Garden Initiative?
Grass-To-Garden is a new initiative from the FOA, designed to increase the number of rain gardens in the Madison area and to grow awareness of the benefits of rain gardens generally. FOA is gifting three rain gardens to organizations or individuals that have a presence or live in and around the Madison area.

What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is a shallow depression planted with water-loving native flowering plants and grasses that help soak up rain water and melted snow. They are best placed in an area where they can capture runoff from a building’s downspout and the lawn. Rain gardens help runoff soak into the ground instead of causing erosion or carrying pollution to the nearest lake or stream.
More information about rain gardens can be found here: or

What does the Rain Garden contain?
The rain garden contains a mix of water-loving plants, such as Fox Sedge, Blue Flag Iris, Marsh Blazingstar, Great Blue Lobelia, Purple coneflower, and Blue Vervain.  The kit will consist of 32 plants – 2 plants of 16 different species – and a yard sign.
The full plant species list can be viewed here:

Who is eligible for the Gift a Rain Garden Program?
Any organizations or individuals in the Madison area are welcome to apply.
The applicant must have a suitable planting site; generally 35 to 65 square feet.
The applicant must have or be able to access the necessary tools for planting (including a shovel, tools for weeding, and the capacity to water the garden in times of drought).
The applicant must have a plan for planting and caring for the garden.

How are selections made?
Provided that applicants meet the basic requirements outlined under “Who is eligible?”, applicants will be selected on a first-come-first-serve basis, with the understanding that at least one garden is reserved for an organization.

What if I live in co-housing or a rental?
If you are interested in applying as part of an organization, you will need to secure permission from your landlord, and likely coordinate how long-term care will be maintained. Since applications are accepted first-come first-served, if you are interested but need time to coordinate, please email Alli Wenman, FOA Board Member, at to hold your spot. We will be reserving at least one garden for an organization or group housing situation in order to accommodate the extra time needed to coordinate.

What to expect if you are selected?
If you are selected, we will provide notice of the selection by April 22, 2022.
You will be responsible for picking-up the garden from the Arboretum on Tuesday, May 10 or Wednesday, May 11, 2022 and should be planted within a couple of weeks. Your rain garden will need extra weeding and watering in the beginning, but maintenance will taper off as plants grow in. For example, a healthy and grown-in rain garden requires weeding just a few times each year, minimal spring cleaning, and watering just during periods of drought.
In order to best understand what works, FOA asks that you contribute to our shared learning through a final report or interview (written or in-person, based on your preference).
Friends will provide some additional educational materials to help with planting and upkeep for those who are selected.

What if I have questions?

Questions may be directed to:  Alli Wenman, FOA Board Member,

How do I apply?

Click here for the online application form. Direct link:

If you need help filling out the online form, please email Alli Wenman, Friends of the Arboretum Board Member,

The contact information that we gather within this form will fall under the Friends of the Arboretum privacy policy. This information will only be used for contact purposes related to this initiative.