Rain Gardens

by Catherine Neal

Modern storm water management systems rely on vegetation to hold the soil, filter contaminants, absorb nutrients, intercept and transpire water, and support healthy and diverse soil biology. Engineers are only beginning to appreciate the contribution that landscapers can make to help green infrastructure survive and thrive. Selecting appropriate plants for biofilters, bioswales, rain gardens and other vegetated storm water management systems is a critical first step to their success. But remember that plant selection only goes so far; though not discussed here, for long-term success, a maintenance plan must be implemented. Continue reading

by Kevin Beuttell

Traditionally, stormwater was viewed as a burden on the landscape. Water was typically taken away through channels and pipes as quickly as possible to avoid flooding on site. Today, we know water and ecological quality can be improved when water is allowed to infiltrate, using it as a resource where it falls. It is now widely understood that rain gardens use the natural capacities of soil and vegetation to retain and cleanse stormwater as it infiltrates. Appropriate maintenance activities that ensure these landscapes maintain their ornamental appearance and critical environmental functions are less well known, however. Continue reading

by Lisa Stiffler

Originally posted on Sightline Daily, January 22, 2013, by Sightline Fellow Lisa Stiffler, this post is part of the research project: Stormwater Solutions: Curbing Toxic Runoff.

If you’re concerned about water pollution, you’ve likely heard this message: The water that gushes off our roofs, driveways, streets, and landscaped yards is to blame for the bulk of the pollution that dirties Puget Sound and numerous Northwest waterbodies. You probably also know about the most popular stormwater solutions, including rain gardens and other green infrastructure that soak up the filthy water, cleaning it before it reaches sensitive waterways that are home to salmon, frogs, orcas, and other wildlife. Continue reading

by Amanda Sloan and Dave Renzi

As they make the left turn into the Providence, RI doctor’s office parking lot, some patients might set their jaws and steel themselves. The screening procedure these Baby Boom Generation clients are about to undergo – while relatively comfortable, completely routine, and sometimes lifesaving – is one that makes many feel squeamish beforehand: the sign at the turn says “Gastroenterology Associates/West River Endoscopy.” Continue reading

This article first appeared in the Summer 2005 issue of the Ecological Landscaper; Paul has provided an update for 2012.

by Paul Kwiatkowski

In this age of reckless consumption of resources and pollution without shame, conservation is vital. The numbers of individuals and businesses that embrace conservation are growing, but America is still lagging in shifting to cleaner, more efficient enterprises, such as hybrid automobiles, wind power, and green roofs. Individuals must take it upon themselves to implement conservation strategies in their neighborhoods, communities, and places of work. Continue reading

by Mary Flodin

ELA sponsored a series of three hands-on eco-workshops in Santa Cruz, CA, during the fall of 2011; each presented by a different local landscaper: Native Plants: The Low Tech Landscape Water Conserving Solution, Darrin Miller of Central Coast Wild; Greywater Clarified, Ken Foster of Terranova; and Rainwater Harvesting, Golden Love of Love’s Gardens. Continue reading

by Amanda Sloan

Early on a bright day in April, a diverse group gathered in Providence, Rhode Island in one of the most urban areas of the city – the Manton Heights public housing residences. Winding their way to a rear corner of the complex were staff from the environmental organization Groundwork Providence, driving a truck filled with plants, trees from their urban forestry program, gravel, compost, and shovels. Continue reading

by Kevin Beuttell

This article is reprinted with the author’s permission from a handout provided at the ELA Conference held on March 3, 2011.

Stormwater infiltration gardens, also known as bioretention gardens or rain gardens, are a key feature of comprehensive sustainable stormwater management strategies. Despite their proven environmental benefits, however, many people are reluctant to use rain gardens because they are typically unattractive with sparse and unhealthy vegetation. But by rethinking bioretention gardens as primarily dry environments that experience only brief wet periods (rather than the other way around), the relationships between vegetation, soil, and environmental performance are dramatically improved. This shift in the design approach to rain gardens opens up new possibilities for incorporating ornamental, attractive, and easily maintained stormwater management systems in all types of locations and climates. Continue reading

by Ed Himlan

A rain garden is a small natural area that helps to cleanse stormwater before it flows into brooks and ponds. Rain gardens, also called bioretention areas, allow stormwater from impervious surfaces, such as streets and driveways, to soak into the ground. Continue reading