What’s that big hole in the Urban Garden?

By Edward McKee, Manager of Outdoor Horticulture

When we began planning for the Lot E parking extension, we were very aware of how the increase in hard surfaces would impact water run-off within this area. We determined that a “Rain Garden” could be incorporated into this new extension of our landscape. Rain Gardens are becoming more and more common within new landscapes and being ‘retrofitted’ into existing landscapes to facilitate a more sustainable solution to water run-off.

The idea of a Rain Garden is to take all or as much as possible of the excess rain water run-off from any hardscape surface. This depression (or big hole) in our Urban Garden landscape was planted this spring with a variety of water and drought tolerant perennials. This is also beneficial for the filtration of pollutants before the rain water is returned back into the environment.

Our Rain Garden is designed to collect and hold the water run-off, allowing pollutants to settle and filter out as the water drains through the perennials and soil into the ground. The Rain Garden typically will infiltrate 30% more water than a conventional turf or lawn area.

Our garden should not be confused with a bog garden or other types of water gardens. A Rain Garden is designed not to be permanently wet, although well beneath the soil may remain a reservoir of moist soils. The types of perennials in our Rain Garden have been specifically selected to withstand periodic flooding, but in no way are dependent on this for survival. They are able to grow and flourish for much of the time in a drier condition.

Ed McKee gives special thanks to:
•Target store volunteers – for the help with planting
•Walters Gardens Inc. – for the perennial donation
•Our horticulturist’s Tony England & Ana Bosma – for coordinating and carrying out the installation process

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