Ruth WalkerComment

Rain Garden Helps Collect Water and Contaminates Before it Enters the Bay

Ruth WalkerComment
Rain Garden Helps Collect Water and Contaminates Before it Enters the Bay

The Northport Rain Garden was conceived as part of an effort to make Northport an even better community.  The garden that visitors will see on the tour was developed by a volunteer team that formed during a meeting that focused on ways to;

  1. help the environment, and

  2. protect Northport’s beautiful bay. 

Although planning started just two years ago, the garden – situated at the top of a hill near the intersection of High and Nagonaba Streets – is already helping to divert storm runoff water and keep it from traveling down Nagonaba Street into Grand Traverse Bay.

 “We worked with the Grand Traverse Watershed Council to choose a site, developed a plan and got a series of permissions to build the garden around adjacent to the school,” Kalchik says. 

 “Our focus was to catch the water runoff that comes down High Street and then continues down Nagonaba to the bay.   We wanted to protect the bay from pollutants,” says Brigette Middleton-Brown.

Rain gardens are considered green infrastructure and are designed to protect larger bodies of water from contamination.  They are designed to collect and hold rainwater for a short time, allowing the water to slowly seep back into the ground and allow contaminates in the water to be naturally removed by the plants, mulch and soil. An added bonus is that in addition to catching rainwater, when planted with the right types of plants, rain gardens also attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife. 

To develop the Northport Rain Garden was a team effort that included local residents Tally Middleton, Brigette Middleton-Brown, Lillian Brown, Claire Brown, Jackie Berz and Jan Stutzman and Laura Kalchik. It took about eight months and the garden is now in its second season.  It’s planted with six different native plants; coreopsis, purple cone flower, sunflower, wintergreen, blue stem grass and yarrow. The plants were researched by Tally Middleton, who also wrote the grant request that was presented to the foundation.  Kal Excavating helped to excavate the bed and create a curb cut and a trough that directs water to the garden. 

While the Northport Rain Garden is in a very public place, rain gardens are something that can be done at home and, in fact, Kalchik plans on doing a rain garden in her own yard.  Visitors to the garden can take inspiration from this tour stop.

If you’re interested in a rain garden for your home, consider where the natural depressions are or where you may have a low lying area where water flows naturally from a downspout, driveway, patio or sidewalk. Typically, rain gardens should be placed at least 10 feet away from foundations to prevent flooding problems, should not be planted over a septic system or where the seasonal high water table is within 24 inches of the soil surface.  A search online for “planning a rain garden” will yield you lots of advice on how to get started as well as the inspiration you get from the tour stop.


The Northport Village Rain Garden is located at the corner of High and Nagonaba Streets in Northport. It will be one of eight gardens on the Northport Area Heritage Association’s fundraising tour on July 31. The tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is $25. Students and children are free. Tickets are available at the Pennington Collection, Tamarack Gallery and the Northport Museum or they can be purchased the day of the tour at the various locations.