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Being a Green Street Steward

Guide
Contribute to your community and help keep Portland’s rivers clean as a Green Street Steward. You can adopt a green street planter and help to take care of them between regular City maintenance visits. Read more about the program and find out how you can become a Green Street Steward.
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Green streets are an important—and attractive—part of how Portland manages stormwater. Green streets are small rain gardens, or bioswales, that absorb water runoff (stormwater) from streets and sidewalks. The City takes care of green street planters and they are an important part of our stormwater collection system. Professional landscape crews visit green street planters to make sure they are healthy, clean, and functioning properly.

You can help keep green street planters working and looking good in between City visits by becoming a Green Street Steward.

You Can Become a Green Street Steward

Joining the Green Street Steward program takes three simple steps: 

  1. Sign up online.
  2. Choose a green street planter to adopt. 
  3. Follow the simple guidelines to care for your planter.

What Green Street Stewards Do 

Green Street Stewards adopt a planter and volunteer to:  

A person rakes trash from a green street planter
Green street stewards help keep inlets clear so water can flow from the street into the planter.
  • Pick up trash. 
  • Remove sediment, leaves, and debris so water can flow. 
  • Water plants during dry summer weather.

With Environmental Services’ approval, Green Street Stewards may also: 

  • Weed established planters that are at least two years old.
  • Add additional plants or flowers.

What Green Street Stewards Don’t Do

Green Street Stewards are not allowed to prune or trim plants that the City has put in the planters. This is because the plants have important stormwater management functions. Trimming the plants could harm that function. You may be subject to a City fine for removing, pruning, or trimming plants in green street planters.

Edible plants are never allowed in green street planters.

How We Support Green Street Stewards

Once you adopt a green street, we’ll contact you to schedule a quick training at your adopted green street. You can also check out our maintenance video (offered in Spanish and English) instead of meeting with us on site.  

You can tend to your green street planter as often as it is convenient to you. Every three months, we’ll ask you to send us your activity log:

If your time is very limited and you can only do spot checks on your green street planter, the most important times to check the planter are before, during, and after storms. Heavy rains can cause trash and debris to collect around curb openings and drains. 

Enjoy the Benefits

Individuals, businesses, and neighborhood groups in Portland can all be Green Street Stewards. Everyone can enjoy benefits from participating. For example:  

  •     Students can earn community service credit.
  •     Neighborhood groups can engage residents in cleanups.
  •     Businesses can earn points toward their Sustainability at Work certification.
  •     Individuals can get outside and get exercise.
  •     Homeowners can beautify their street.

By working together, we can all help to improve Portland’s water quality and create healthier, greener neighborhoods.

What Green Street Stewards Say

“[Working with the Green Street Steward program] is the right amount of social time, activism, and conservation.”  

A Green Street Steward picking up trash from a Green Street facility.
Stewards help keep green streets near their homes or businesses looking good.

Krista Jackson, volunteer coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter

“I got involved in the Green Street Steward program by accident. I met some people from the City one day while they were assessing the two green streets in front of my house. After talking with them I decided to officially adopt the green streets. I’m happy to weed, pick up trash and the many cigarette butts to keep the green streets looking nice.” 

Kathy Smith

"We thought [being a Green Street Steward Business Partner] would be a great opportunity for our business to show how we can improve the cityscape and improve a business storefront, so we gladly got on board.” 

Eric Furlong with Next Adventure 

Do You Want to Become a Green Street Steward?  

To find a green street near you that is available to adopt, use this map. A green street finder is also available at the signup link below. 

Yes, I want to sign up 

If you have already signed up, and want to manage your green street participation, use the link below. 

Resources for Green Street Stewards 

We have many resources to help you take care of your green street planter. 

How to take care of your adopted green street

Cómo cuidar a su Green Street (Calle Verde) adoptada

This helpful guide details the types of maintenance activities needed for green street planters. It also specifies which tasks stewards can and can’t do. In addition, the guide has brief explanations for the maintenance tasks, pictures of the native plants used, and helpful points of contact for any questions. Last, this guide has a copy of the activity log and the forms and protocol for requesting approval to add plants. 

Green Street Steward Activity Log 

As a steward, it’s important to keep track of your valuable work in an activity log, and to report it once every few months. This helps us assess and improve the effectiveness of our green streets. Stewards may complete activity logs digitally or by hand. Thank you for taking the time to improve your community and for letting us know about it!  

Green Street Steward Suggested Plant Guide

Registered, trained, and active stewards may submit proposals to add plants to their green street planters. This guide contains an extensive list of plants that may be suitable for your green street planter. Each plant indicates whether it is suitable for the central part of the rain garden (Zone A), where plants are often inundated with water, or along the slope (Zone B), where soil is dry to moist. Stewards must always seek approval for their suggested plants even if they are included in this guide. For the planning and approval forms, see the end of the Maintenance Guide

Green Street Steward Weed Identification Guide 

Trained stewards may weed planters that are older than two years. When you choose your green street planter, you’ll learn how old the planter is. This visual guide can help you identify over thirty common weeds and the best way to remove them. 

More questions?  

Contact the Green Street Steward Coordinator or email GreenStreetStewards@portlandoregon.gov