Ring Around the Garden

A graceful double-lot solution for ongoing stormwater education and social events.

SunPart Shade










Sun, Part Shade

The soil pile excavated from the rain garden creates a center mound to be planted with colorful spring blooms. The field guide encourages you to make this lot design your own by adding ornamental trees, sculptures or other unique features on the mound. This lot design requires integration with municipal storm systems and is a great choice for those looking to play a role in green infrastructure implementation!

Ideal Location: Double lot in full or part sun (near a school or community hub is ideal).


The estimated cost of the Ring Around the Garden is high, and based on utilizing volunteer and hired, professional labor. The Field Guide recommends hiring a professional for the earthwork, lot preparation and to permit and install the overflow culvert. It is reasonable to install the planted part of this design using volunteer labor. The highest cost item in this lot design is work we strongly recommend a landscape contractor complete. The planting on the Ring Around the Garden is relatively conservative—the Field Guide provides a starting point for the unique needs and potential interpretations of this lot design in different settings.

Green Infrastructure

This large stormwater feature—an enhanced rain garden— has the capacity to manage runoff from large impervious areas including roofs, streets and parking lots. Structures adjacent to this lot design can utilize the infiltration area to disconnect downspouts. This lot design requires integration with municipal storm systems and is a great choice for those looking to play a role in green infrastructure implementation!

Vegetation and Visibility

This is a high visibility lot design. The placement of trees (and tree trunks!) ensures that clear viewsheds across and through the lot are preserved—especially for corner lots.

Falling Hazard

This lot design includes trees, however, if you follow the design specifications, all trees are located to ensure that basement root intrusion and potential falling hazards do not occur, and that the City’s plan review requirements are followed. Unmaintained trees create a hazard to neighboring structures. We recommend working with a certified arborist as your trees mature. Please note the trees on the plan are shown at a mature spread.

Most Interesting Season

Other Consideration

Photo © Lambert, Rotherstien & Associates


The Field Guide recommends hiring a professional to build this project, or at least to complete the earthwork portion of the lot design. With the help of your friends, family or neighbors, the planting part of this project can be completed in one weekend. A large group of volunteers organized by a knowledgeable lot leader will be able to complete this in less time. If you would like to install only the plants yourself, please follow the step-by-step directions provided.

Build Time Estimate

Ten hands or more! The volunteer planting part of this lot design should take one weekend to complete. The Field Guide recommends hiring a professional for assistance with at least the earthworks part of this lot design. Acquiring the correct permits for your lot may take longer than the actual construction. Remember, earthmoving is a craft—when in doubt, reach out for help!

Build Difficulty

Number of People Needed

Neighbor Labor

Time Taken to Build

Build Season

Transportation Intensity

Permit Requirements


Well-groomed landscapes require time and commitment. This lot design requires a high level of maintenance to thrive. Upkeep will include weeding and watering the plants, trees and large-scale rain garden, particularly during the first two years while the plants establish themselves. The first year will be the most labor intensive, as you may need to water during dry times.

Plan ahead and remember to think about where and how you will access water as you help your new plants establish!

The Field Guide recommends connecting with an arborist or taking a workshop on tree health and maintenance. The Greening of Detroit offers a great Citizen Forester program to interested residents.

Seasonal Upkeep Levels

  • Spring: Low
  • Summer: Medium
  • Fall: Low
  • Winter: Low

Upkeep Frequency

Upkeep Skill Levels

Professional Assistance

Special Tools