How do I get water for my Community Garden?

You will want to ensure that you get enough water to meet the needs of the plants planned for the garden. Some of the common ways to access water for a community garden include:

Neighbor's House

Consider sharing the cost of water with a neighboring homeowner who is willing to supply water with a nearby spigot from their home.

Rain Collection

Rain barrels collect and store rainwater, typically from a garage or house roof, that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted into storm drains. If your site does not have a building or garage, consider whether neighboring homeowners would allow you to install and use rain barrels at their homes or garages. The City encourages rain barrels be located at the rear and side of homes and be screened from the street view by landscaping.

A rain barrel is usually constructed out of a 55 gallon drum and connected to a gutter downspout. In the City, rain barrels are permitted as long as drains and/or overflows from the barrel do not flow back toward the building or create a nuisance condition. Typically, this issue is addressed by using a diverter, which does not permanently disconnect the downspout for a rain barrel. The diverter allows water to collect in the rain barrel until it is full, and then allows the overflow water to run down through your downspout as it was originally designed.


Although spigots have a relatively high upfront cost, it makes water access easy and convenient for the life of the community garden. Use of a spigot on City-owned lots will be discussed on a case-by-case basis with applicants for City-owned properties. To set up an account for a metered spigot on privately-owned lots, complete the Cleveland Water's domestic application and letter of intent, and submit, along with a plot plan showing the location of the connection and the vault being used to Cleveland Water's Permit and Sales Department, which can be reached at 216-664-2444 ext. 5203.

  • Cleveland Water's Permits and Sales Department will charge for the meter to be installed (around $3,400 for 2 spigots) and schedule installation of meter, back flow valve, and spigot(s).
  • Cleveland Water will inspect the back flow after installation.
  • Shaker Heights, through a private company, will inspect the back flow annually ($80/year).

Fire Hydrant Permit

Although fire hydrants are located in the City of Shaker Heights, the City of Cleveland supplies water to the hydrants and is responsible for water usage permits. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain permits from both Shaker Heights and Cleveland Water to use water from a fire hydrant for your garden:

To obtain a Shaker Heights Hydrant Use Permit:

  • Contact the Shaker Heights Fire Department at 216-491-1215 for an application
  • Complete and return the application
  • Pay a $100 fee ($25 permit fee plus $75 refundable deposit)
  • Shaker Fire Department will inspect hydrant for adequate water pressure
  • If hydrant clears inspection, Fire Department will issue a Shaker permit
  • To operate a hydrant it will be necessary to obtain a hydrant adapter fitting and a hydrant wrench from a tool supply store to use for installing the adapter and controlling water.
  • When finished using a hydrant for the season, contact the Shaker Heights Fire Department to inspect the hydrant for damage. If the hydrant passes inspection, the Fire Department will refund your $75 deposit.
  • Repeat process each year.

To obtain a Cleveland Water Usage Permit:
The Cleveland Water Department issues Community Garden Permits. Find additional information on permits on the Cleveland Water website or contact the Permit and Sales Unit at 216-664-2444.


Show All Answers

1. Where can I get help starting a Community Garden?
2. Who should I contact at the City about starting a Community Garden?
3. When should I contact the City about starting a Community Garden?
4. What questions do I need to think about when looking for a Community Garden site?
5. Should I have the site's soil tested?
6. How do I get water for my Community Garden?
7. What types of zoning regulations do I need to consider?
8. What else should I consider?
9. What are the steps for starting a Community Garden on City-owned property?
10. What are the steps for starting a Community Garden on privately owned property?
11. What costs are associated with starting a Community Garden?
12. How long will it take to get a Community Garden up and running?