Fall leaves floating in water

It seems as though every day the topic of heavy rains and flooding is in the news. In recent times, many home and business owners across Ontario have experienced localized flooding and severe damage to their homes, businesses and community infrastructure. It can happen here too. The good news is that we can take action to protect our neighbourhoods from flooding.

Reep Green Solutions in partnership with the City of Kitchener, would like to invite you to participate in a unique opportunity to have your say in the future of the outdoor space in the Bridgeport East neighbourhood. Use your first-hand knowledge of the area to contribute ideas for adding green spaces in your community.

The Bridgeport East Greening Your Neighbourhood Workshop will draw from residents’ observations and combine them with experts’ insights to create a vision that will improve your neighbourhood’s capacity to handle large storms and enhance the everyday quality of life for community members.

All are welcome to participate. It is free to attend, but we ask that you please register in advance to reserve your spot. Refreshments will be provided and childcare will be available.




Becca Robinson | Workshop Facilitator

Headshot of presenter Becca Robinson

Becca Robinson is the Principal Designer and Owner of Grow and Gather Design and is currently the RAIN Coach for REEP Green Solutions. Her practice of landscape architecture centres around the creation of places that promote and celebrate the benefits of interacting with nature.

She has been the landscape designer for prestigious projects such as Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre, a City of Edinburgh park adjacent to the Holyrood Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR). She has a Masters of Landscape Architecture from University of Michigan and a B.S. in Environmental Science from University of North Carolina.


This workshop is in partnership with the City of Cambridge, Region of Waterloo and Grand River Conservation Authority.

Region of Waterloo logoGrand River Conservation Authority logoCity of Kitchener logo

Sunshine coming through leaves of a tree

A tree is an investment that gives back in benefits for decades. But with hundreds of trees to choose from, how do you decide which is best for your location? At this FREE workshop you will be guided through the process of selecting a tree that will thrive on your property. We’ll go through the decision making process looking at some of these questions:

  • Do I want shade, privacy, spring flowers, fall colours or winter interest?
  • Do I want to attract songbirds?
  • Is the soil dry or is it damp?
  • How close can my tree be to the house or power lines?
  • What’s the best time to plant and prune?
  • How do I take care of it once it’s been planted?

Come to learn and ask questions in this engaging, interactive workshop. After the presentation, join us for a walk around the neighbourhood to see examples of successful (and less successful) plantings.

Click HERE to Register for this FREE event!



Headshot of Adele Pierre, Presenter of this workshopAdele Pierre | Landscape Design & Tree Consultant, Reep Green Solutions

Landscape architect and ISA arborist, Adele Pierre leads an award winning design firm specializing in the creation of beautiful, low maintenance landscapes. Mindful of the effects of climate change on our natural systems, Adele incorporates native plantings in all projects to provide habitat for pollinators, build healthy soils and manage rainwater. As an arborist her particular concern is the health of urban trees, working with architects, engineers and planners to incorporate hardy species of trees in city plantings.

Along with her husband, a musician and woodworker, she enjoys country life on 2 acres in Haldimand County with a large vegetable garden, laying hens, honey bees and an extensive collection of native flowering shrubs and perennials to feed the bees. Their honey, mead and honey beer are spectacular.



We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking.


Funders + Partners

This workshop is part of a series Reep Green Solutions’ partnership with the City of Kitchener to provide an enhanced appreciation of our Urban Forest. The workshops are a companion to the City of Kitchener’s City-wide tree planting pilot that includes a subsidized tree planting from Reep Green Solutions.

City of Kitchener logo


Photo Notice

By your entry, you consent to the possibility of being included in the footage and to the purposes for which it may be used: to publicize the event taking place in this area and/or to promote Reep Green Solutions. Individual participants will not be identified without their consent. Reep Green Solutions has exclusive rights to and ownership of this multimedia footage. Speak with the staff/volunteers if you would like to opt-out of appearing in photo/video. Contact [email protected] if you have questions or concerns.


Sheppard Public School staff, students, and Parent Council are working together with Reep Green Solutions to DEPAVE an underutilized area of tarmac and transform it into a dynamic naturalized play space! On Sunday, October 28 at 10am volunteers from the school and surrounding community will work together to liberate the ground from tarmac and gravel subsurface and install healthier soil and mulch in its place to kick-off the tarmac makeover.


before depave Sheppard public school


after depave render

Afterwards, we will be working with students and Parent Council to install:

  1. Native trees and shrubs to provide shade for students and a buffer between the tarmac and the teacher’s parking lot.
  2. Natural objects, like boulders and logs, and a mud table
  3. A naturalized ground surface that will absorb more stormwater runoff and reduce the heat radiating off of the play surface during hot days.


mud table

Hahn Plastics Canada















The plans for this area were developed after consultation with students and staff and design workshops with Grade 5 and 6 classes in the spring that illuminated some of the problems with the status quo. Our proposed solution will help absorb rain (reducing mud problems) and provide shade in an otherwise hot play area.







We’ve partnered with Waterloo Public Health to look at the need for shade in the schoolyard, and sampled temperatures on various surfaces, such as the tarmac, the “kindy area” and the “natural area”.  On a hot day, typical for the beginning and end of the school year, there was sometimes a 15C° difference between the black tarmac and a softer surface material like wood chips!  We want to create more shady and cool play surfaces for our kids as extreme temperatures and high UV warnings are becoming more prevalent.









Interested in being part of this makeover?

    • Register for the event to rip out tarmac and place soil
    • DONATE!
    • We are seeking in-kind donations of tarmac saw cutting, provision of a disposal bin, soil, mulch, pry bars, trees and shrubs, and food and refreshments.  Contact [email protected] if you can help.
    • Parent Council is still raising money to purchase additional challenging obstacles like a log jam climbing structure.  Contact [email protected] if you are interested in donating towards this.

Eventbrite - Depave Paradise at Sheppard Public School


COACH Series

This is a new series of events featuring our resident experts in home energy efficiency, RAIN Smart Homes and waste reduction.

Healthy Yards: Designing Your Garden

This workshop is perfect for Do-it-Yourselfers who have an early-stage plan for their healthy yard and desire additional design support to fulfill their vision for a healthy yard.  We will build upon the concepts and principles learned in Healthy Yards: Idea Spark & Planning and guide you through a more detailed design for your healthy yard project(s).

Boulevard garden and Little Library

The workshop will focus on planting design and project planning for rain gardens and naturalized landscapes, as well as topics such as:

  • planting for year round interest
  • the best plants for rain gardens
  • harvesting rain to water plants
  • materials calculations (i.e. compost, sand, mulch)

Participants will leave with a planting design for a part (or all) of their yard and a shopping list for plants and related materials required to implement the project successfully.

Come with a specific gardening project in mind, including its size and location. This could possibly be developed during the Healthy Yards: Idea Spark & Planning workshop or through a RAIN Coach consultation.  We will develop a scaled drawing of your garden during the workshop to effectively determine the number of plants and other materials you will require, so knowledge of the dimensions, sun exposure, and soil conditions (wet, dry, or moist or sand, silt or clay) will be helpful.


  • Presentation: 1:30 p.m.
  • Design Exercise: 1:50 – 3:00 p.m.
  • Open House: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

This workshop repeats on Wednesday April 18 at 7pm. Choose the date that is most convenient for you. Space is limited


Becca Robinson is the Principal Designer and Owner of Grow and Gather Design (www.growandgatherdesign.com) and is currently the RAIN Coach for REEP Green Solutions. Her practice of landscape architecture centres around the creation of places that promote and celebrate the benefits of interacting with nature.

She has been the landscape designer for prestigious projects such as Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre, a City of Edinburgh park adjacent to the Holyrood Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.  She has a Masters of Landscape Architecture from University of Michigan and a B.S. in Environmental Science from University of North Carolina.

In partnership with

We would like to acknowledge our project partners, the City of Kitchener, Partners for Action from the University of Waterloo, and Green Communities Canada.
City of Kitchener Print rain_partner-logos_gcc

With funding provided by:

This project is funded through a donation from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) that supports projects that contribute to healthy and vibrant Ontario communities.
Ontario Trillium Foundation


We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking. The house is just off the Iron Horse Trail and we have a bike rack.

It is also easily accessible by GRT bus routes that use Queen and have stops near Mill St. If you drive, please consider carpooling with others you know are attending.

Since the house only has a few parking spots, we have arranged for parking spaces in the Schneider Haus lot around the corner on Queen St. S.

By Sarah Lukaszczyk

On a late spring Saturday morning, I made the walk from my home in Waterloo to the Mount Hope Neighborhood; I was planning to volunteer at a rain barrel fundraiser for a local charity. As I walked I began to notice subtle changes in the landscape. From diverse, grass-free lawns blooming with wildflowers to pollinator-friendly plants, it was easy to see the different ways residents in this neighborhood  were safeguarding the environment and bettering the overall community aesthetic. Peoples’ desire to improve their yards was not limited to their lawns – standard grass boulevards were commonly replaced with an eye-catching arrangement of colourful flowers and other succulents. 

I noticed these neighbourhood improvements following my opportunity earlier that week to interview Mount Hope resident Stephen Barath, who recently installed a rain garden. In our interview, Stephen made me acutely aware of the neighborhood’s heightened conservation ethic. However, it was not until I saw the gradual transition from grass lawns to little forests during my walk that I felt like I was entering a little utopia.

As part of Reep’s RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project, and under the watchful eye of his wife and two young daughters,  Stephen installed a rain garden on one of his rental properties. Digging holes and choosing native plants was rewarding, Stephen explained, a sense that was increasingly evident to me over the course of our interview.  As a daughter of a professional landscaper myself, it was invigorating to see the enjoyment and pride Stephen had towards his garden. It warmed my heart further to hear that his two-year-old daughter even got her hands dirty to help her Dad dig holes. That evoked memories of time spent with my own Dad as a child. Stephen’s understanding of the importance (and fun, as he reminded me repeatedly) of these projects to safeguarding our water and beautifying the community left a lasting impression, as he has already decided to build another rain garden on a different property.

Not entirely convinced it was all fun and games, I challenged Stephen to tell me something unexpected he had experienced while building the rain garden. He explained that in jest neighbours would stop and say things like ‘Did the water main break?’ while only one neighbour was able to correctly identify what Stephen was actually up to. A little girl who was walking home with her grandmother after school even exclaimed, “Look Grandma that man is still digging holes.” After describing them, Stephen went on to say that these exchanges with his neighbours were always welcome so he had a reason to take a break from digging and chat about the wider benefits of rain gardens for the community.

For his tenants the rain garden removes almost all the grass on the property. There is no longer a need to mow and Stephen imagines this could be seen as an added benefit for the renter and the landlord. Although, based on my brief time in the community, initiatives such as these are not merely done for the sake of convenience but also for their environmental benefit.

Being that Father’s Day had recently past, Stephen’s father came for a visit and while in town the two made time to see the new rain garden. Stephen admitted to me that while the garden didn’t look like much at present, his father observed that, “Like the acorns they used to plant together when Stephen was young, the garden will begin to bloom in due time.” And just as Stephen’s father continued to point out the different trees the two had planted in his youth, I imagine Stephen would likewise do the same with his own daughters in the years to come. Thanks to the help of Reep’s RAIN Coach, the family had resources that helped them to identify which native species were best suited for the area and whether they should be placed in the shade or sun.

Overall, my greatest take away from meeting Stephen and his family is that while fun, you don’t start these projects – especially the do-it-yourself ones – simply for yourself. These spaces are created to be shared, whether that be with the little girl and her grandma who live in the neighborhood, the Environmental studies student casually strolling by one Saturday morning or the busy bees and butterflies attracted by your hard work. It’s all worth it for the joy your rain garden brings to all who see it.

Visit Reep Green Solutions’ RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods web page to learn mo re information build your own rain garden and incentives available residents of Mount Hope on a first come, first served basis.

Columbine plantHow to plant for beauty and function

Plants are the most visible part of your rain garden. At this presentation, you’ll learn how taking time to consider your selection of plants can enhance the beauty of your space, attract pollinators, and manage rain where it falls.

Rain gardens are built to capture a large volume of water. Rain gardens differ from regular gardens because they are dug out and filled with a special mixture which enables the garden to act like a sponge and hold larger volumes of water.

Presented by our RAIN Coach

Becca Robinson is the Principal Designer and Owner of Grow and Gather Design (www.growandgatherdesign.comand is currently the RAIN Coach for REEP Green Solutions. Her practice of landscape architecture centres around the creation of places that promote and celebrate the benefits of interacting with nature.

She has been the landscape designer for prestigious projects such as Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre, a City of Edinburgh park adjacent to the Holyrood Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR).  She has a Masters of Landscape Architecture from University of Michigan and a B.S. in Environmental Science from University of North Carolina.


Location: 184 Gatewood Rd., Kitchener in the Lakeside Neighbourhood

Alexis and the RAIN Smart House: Chapter 4

This post is the fourth in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

As the winner of the RAIN Smart Front Yard Makeover contest Alexis Motuz receives $10,000 to spend on a Front Yard Makeover that will both enhance her property and reduce the amount of stormwater running off her property and directly into the storm sewer.

The prize included a consultation by our RAIN Coach to assess her home and provide some ideas of how best to manage water on her property. The Coach then turned those ideas into an appealing design for Alexis’ outdoor space.

Rebecca Robinson – RAIN Coach

Alexis and her family already use their yard heavily and she had some great ideas for how it could be improved. Having two young kids, she wanted to maintain some open space for play. She also wanted to have raised beds for growing vegetables.

Alexis and I sat down and in a very short time, we were able to take these priorities and build them into something that will increase the environmental sustainability of the space and enhance its functionality for her and her family.


landscape design featuresWorking with a designer was a lot of fun. I had already sketched out some ideas, but the designer was able to take those ideas and really make the most of the space that I have. I wanted to keep an open space for my kids to play, but I also wanted to keep the vegetable garden and direct water into it.

Rebecca helped me come up with a design for the yard that maximizes play space while allowing me to keep my vegetable garden and reduce the amount of time I spend watering.

I really look forward to seeing how my family uses the space differently when it is finished, and I am excited that the design is both environmentally sustainable and has elements that can leverage the skills of artists and businesses in the neighbourhood.

In the end, Rebecca and I decided on a kid-friendly strawberry patch and allium garden at the front of the yard—something Dr. Seuss-ish. This will be planted overtop of storm water crates (B) that will redirect a significant amount of water from the roof that is currently running onto the driveway and street into the storm sewer.

In the back of the yard, we decided to use a cistern to collect water from the roof (D). We will then hook it up to weeping hoses and use this for irrigating the vegetable garden boxes. Although it may seem like a small gain to some, I am so excited not to have to water every evening and to move away from using municipal water.

We also decided to move the apple tree into the side yard because it is not flourishing out front, and we are going to install a second large rain barrel on the other side of the house (C) so that I can collect water to use for the front garden and raspberry boxes.

There were some design challenges that required me to keep an open mind. When the design first suggested moving the garden boxes in front of the deck so that we could do the passive irrigation (4), I thought this would look strange. I took some time to think about it more, though, and as I walked my yard, the idea grew on me. It is a something I would never have thought of myself, but I’m excited to see how it turns out.

Before meeting with Rebecca, I had thought about redoing the driveway in permeable pavers. While these are very effective at soaking up rainwater and they look fantastic, they are pricey and I wouldn’t have been able to develop my yard into the garden/play space that will be of much more benefit in the long term.

Finally, I had originally thought a rain garden might work on my property but between keeping an open play space, moving the apple tree, and the proximity to my foundations, it seemed the stormwater crates would be a better solution. So there was a lot to learn through this process and I had to keep an open mind. It’s been a wonderfully collaborative process with lots of back and forth, and I am happy to be adopting new design ideas and rain management systems in my yard.

RAIN Smart design solutions used

Here’s a closer look at some of the features included in this RAIN Smart Home.

design diagram of RAIN smart featuresA – Replace rain barrel

B – Infiltration gallery/basin

Alexis is also going to use an underground infiltration gallery to allow more water to soak down into the soil. Traditionally, infiltration galleries are made by digging a hole and filling it with rock or sand. Or as used at Alexis’ home, specially designed crates are placed into a hole and covered. It is recommended that infiltration galleries be professionally installed.

C – Added rain barrel

D – Cistern

Alexis has decided to use a cistern to capture the rain from her roof and use it as a resource for her vegetable garden. A cistern is essentially a larger version of a rain barrel. It is usually made of a heavy-duty plastic or concrete. Cisterns are sometimes buried underground, but in Alexis case, the cistern is kept above ground and raised slightly, which allows her to use gravity to passively water the plants in her garden. Cisterns can vary widely in size from between approximately 350-5200 litres of water.

Native plants

Although Alexis had hoped to plant a rain garden, she ultimately went with the infiltration gallery to maximize usable play space for her kids.  As an alternative, she intends to use native plants above the infiltration gallery and in the garden beds surrounding her yard. Native plants are being used because they are well suited to the local soil and sunlight conditions.

To learn about other RAIN Smart techniques, you are invited to visit the Reep  House for Sustainable Living at 20 Mill Street, Kitchener to see these techniques in action. We also invite you to sign up for our newsletter and learn more at one of our upcoming events.


by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

Everyone wants beautiful green spaces around their home. It adds character. It also provides a natural area for people and animals to enjoy.

It can also be a challenge when the plants you want to grow just won’t cooperate.  One way to increase your odds of success is to use local or native plant species.

The advantages of native plant speciescolumbine - cropped

Native or local plants belong here. They have adapted to our climate, our weather patterns, and the local flora and fauna. They are also drought tolerant and an excellent choice for rain gardens.

Top 10 native plants

At a recent event, we had Jeff Thompson of Native Plant Source share his top 10 native plants for gardeners in Waterloo Region.

Common NameScientific NameColourBloomHeight (m)
Butterfly MilkweedAsclepias tuberosaOrangeJuly0.5
Sky Blue AsterAster azureusBlueSeptember/October0.5
Pale Purple ConeflowerEchinacea pallidPurpleJuly0.5
Smooth Beard TonguePenstemon digitalisWhiteMay0.25
Little BluestemSchizachyrium scopariumBlueSeptember/October0.25
Common Blue-Eyed GrassSisyrinchium montanumBlueJune0.10
Prairie DockSilphium terebinthinaceumYellowAugust3.0
Indian GrassSorgastrum nutansChestnutSeptember/October2.0
Culvers RootVeronicastrum virginiucumWhiteAugust/September2.0
Golden AlexandersZizia aureaYellowMay0.5

Here are four more reasons to garden with native plants: (by Peter Scholtens, Verbinnen’s Nursery):

  • Native plants support the needs of local wildlife.
  • Native plants require less care than non-native.
  • Some wildlife are completely dependant on specific native plants for survival.
  • Native plants in gardens act as a source for seeds and keep local natural areas populated with native plants.

There are numerous benefits to using native plants, not the least of which is the environment in general.  So enjoy the plants mother nature gave us for our area. They were literally built to thrive here.

What are your sources for native plants?

While it may be tempting to bring back some native wildflowers from a hike, a campground or along a country road, that breaks the cardinal rule of “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” Fortunately, it is pretty easy to buy native plants and seeds.

Here’s a good list of native plant sources in Ontario from Credit Valley Conservation (PDF). You may also want to try the Evergreen Garden Market in east Toronto.

Do you have any of your own recommendations? Please leave them in the comments section below.


The best plants for creating the most color for the least effort. This is a truly sustainable approach to gardening.

Jeff ThompsonJeff Thompson owner Waterloo Region’s nursery Native Plant Source has been designing, installing and maintaining low maintenance gardens for over 20 years. His company has won landscape design awards and his clients have won environmental awards for their innovative landscapes.

We’ve added a second presentation at 3 p.m.!

Just use the ticket starting with 3 p.m.

2015 RAIN Community Engagement Award Winner

Here’s the story of one of the 2015 Celebrating Community Action award recipients. Learn about all nine recipients.

With 36,000 students and 5,000 staff on its Waterloo campus, the University of Waterloo is like a small, innovative city nested inside of a larger one. Stormwater management innovation is an important part of UW’s sustainability approach. With 3 permeable paving installations, 5 green roofs, a rooftop water collection system that filters water through a constructed wetland then re-uses the water to flush toilets and water the green wall, and extensive native plant gardens, the university has become a recognized innovator and leader in stormwater education.

Garden-based stormwater management practices have had additional social and educational benefits to the campus. The green roof and patio built by RoofingColumbia.org contractors on the new LEED Platinum Environmental Studies building has become a favourite relaxation spot for staff and students. The unused lawn between the Arts and Environment buildings has been transformed by gardens, winding paths and seating areas into a place where people sit to chat, study and do yoga. “The new gardens have invited more birds and butterflies to campus and they’ve also drastically changed the way parts of campus are used,” explains Jessica Alessio, Ecology Lab Assistant.  “The Environmental Studies students are actively involved in the design, planting and maintenance of the native plant gardens. The gardens have become an outdoor classroom.”

Along with the benefits of McGehee Private High School, there have also been challenges and tough decisions about where to prioritize stormwater management projects. “Many of these new projects need several iterations to get them right,” says Mat Thijssen, the University’s Sustainability Coordinator “the more hands off a system is, the more likely it is to be successful. It’s also more cost effective to integrate designs into new builds, which is why these features are more prevalent in our new construction projects. The university designs all of its new buildings to a minimum of LEED Silver and innovative stormwater features help us to achieve that.”

Native plant gardens, constructed wetland and permeable walkway at UW

Upcoming Events

  1. Is Renewable Energy for You? Installations, Investments and Retrofits for Anyone

    November 16 | 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
  2. The Good Green Death Project

    November 23 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm