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RiverSmart Homes - Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the RiverSmart Homes program:

  • Where in the District is the RiverSmart Homes program offered?
  • Am I eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program?
  • ​Is becoming a RiverSmart Homes going to cost me money?
  • How does payment work for becoming a RiverSmart Home?
  • Does becoming a RiverSmart Home impact my property tax assessment?
  • How long does it take to become a RiverSmart Home?
  • What is the process of becoming a RiverSmart Homes?
  • How can landscape firms or landscape designers get involved in RiverSmart Homes?
  • Can homeowners use their own landscaper?
  • What do I have to do after becoming a RiverSmart Home?

Where in the District is the RiverSmart Homes program offered?

The program is currently open city wide to all of the District of Columbia.

Am I eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program?

If you own a home in the District, either as a resident or as a landlord, you are eligible to become a RiverSmart Home. Tenants must have their landlord’s consent to participate in the program. Homes that have already participated in the program may not be eligible for additional funding.

Note: Large property complexes such as apartments, condominiums, and offices are currently not eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program. Please visit RiverSmart Communities for information.

Is becoming a RiverSmart Homes going to cost me money?

Homeowners make a copayment, usually around 10 percent of the total cost, for each RiverSmart Homes feature installed on their properties. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) subsidizes the rest of the cost. The copayments are as follows:

  • Rain barrels = $45 per rain barrel (limit two)
  • Shade trees = $50 per shade tree (no limit)
  • Rain gardens = $75 (limit one)
  • BayScaping (native plants) = $100 (limit one)
  • Pervious pavers = varies. DDOE provides $1,200 towards the cost of removing and replacing impervious surface with pervious pavers or vegetation. The homeowner pays the difference between the total cost and $1,200.

How and when do I make a copayment for my RiverSmart Home feature?

Homeowners make copayments directly to the contractor installing their RiverSmart Home feature (e.g., shade trees, rain barrels, BayScaping, rain gardens, pervious pavers). The timeline for these copayments will vary by feature. Please contact the nonprofit coordinating the installation of your RiverSmart Homes feature(s) for more information on payment due dates.

Does becoming a RiverSmart Home impact my property tax assessment?

No.

How long does it take to become a RiverSmart Home?

After an audit of your property (see below for audit details) is completed, contractors should complete work on your property within 6-8 months.

What is the process of becoming a RiverSmart Homes?

Enroll in the RiverSmart Homes program either by calling DDOE at (202) 535-2252 or filling out the online application.  See Becoming a RiverSmart Homeowner for more details.

How can landscaping firms or landscape designers get involved in RiverSmart Homes?

Landscapers must attend a one-day training to become eligible to install the RiverSmart landscapes (BayScapes and rain gardens). This free training is held each fall and spring and will include a classroom session in the morning with a hands-on component in the afternoon. Topics will include goals and purpose of RiverSmart Homes, design and placement of gardens, and administrative requirements. In the afternoon, participants will assist in a rain garden installation at a RiverSmart Homes site. Please email Lauren Linville to enroll in the next landscaper’s training.

Can homeowners use their own landscaper?

Yes. If homeowners have a landscaper they are currently working with and would like to use her/him to install a RiverSmart feature, the landscaper will need to attend the one-day training offered each fall and spring (see above). Please email Lauren Linville to enroll in the next landscaper’s training.

What do I have to do after becoming a RiverSmart Home?

RiverSmart homeowners are required to maintain their features while they own the property. Maintenance duties will vary depending on the type of installation and usually entail seasonal watering, weeding, mulching, and pruning. Landscaping practices only include plants and trees native to the Chesapeake Bay region, meaning less watering and no fertilizer necessary. Rain barrels will need to be emptied after major rain events and the filters cleared monthly.

Homeowners can also help spread the word about RiverSmart Homes. Please contact Lauren Linville  to receive brochures and other promotional material.

Service Contact: 
Lauren Linville
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
(202) 535-2252
Contact TTY: 
711