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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 with a yard in the District, either as a resident or as a landlord, you are eligible for having a RiverSmart Home. If you rent a home in the District, you must have your landlord’s consent to participate in the program. Unfortunately if you purchase a home that has already participated in the program and recommendations have been installed, you may not be eligible for additional funding.  New single family home construction is not eligible for participation in the program.

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

Is becoming a RiverSmart Homes going to cost me money?

The RiverSmart Homes program provides you with a cost-savings of up to $1,200, but is not free-of-charge. So that you have some ownership of the landscaping work, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) is asking for homeowners to pay a small percentage of their installation cost (usually around 10 percent of the potential total cost). Your break-down of co-payments include:

  • Shade Trees = $50. The cost of the shade tree installation is estimated to be $300.
  • Rain Barrels = $45. The cost of the rain barrel installation is estimated to be $300.
  • BayScaping (native plants) = $100. The cost of the BayScaping varies depending on the size of the area landscaped. It can be up to $1,200.
  • Rain Gardens = $75. The cost of a rain garden varies depending on the size of the area landscaped. It can be up to $1,200.
  • Pervious Pavers = DDOE will pay the difference (up to $1,200) between conventional pavement (concrete) and pervious pavers.

How does payment work for becoming a RiverSmart Home?

You will pay your appropriate co-payment directly to the contractor(s) installing your RiverSmart Home landscape enhancements – i.e. shade trees, rain barrels, BayScaping, rain gardens or pervious pavers. Co-payment happens at the time of installation (see below for installation details).

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