Building a Rain Garden to Address Stormwater Management in the English Park Section of the Morris Arboretum

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Fine, Lauren

The area surrounding the Hillcrest building suffers from an ongoing problem of flooding and erosion during moderate to heavy rain events. Not only does the building itself succumb to flooding, but the gardens around it are constantly washed out. The stormwater runoff causes surface erosion and limits plant survival opportunities. The first objective of this project is to provide infiltration of stormwater runoff near the Hillcrest building by installing a rain garden. The rain garden will reduce erosion, flooding, and revitalize the aesthetic value of the area while providing an education component to incorporate learning opportunities. Currently, stormwater enters the garden along Hillcrest Avenue near the Hillcrest building and moves over the pavilion driveway and down the hill washing out the garden beds along the way. Erosion and flood control are the main objectives that will be met by this project. Cleanup from floods calls for many hours of work by maintenance and horticulture staff in addition to outside contractors. Diverting some of this stormwater runoff to a rain garden would reduce impact and damage, thereby decreasing the amount of time spent cleaning up after large rain events. The second aspect of this project is improving the aesthetic value of the area near the Hillcrest building. Revitalizing the garden beds and installing a rain garden will bring new interest to this vicinity. I plan to use low maintenance native plants appropriate for the ephemeral waves of flooding. Furthermore, I will repeat the plantings in the surrounding beds to create a node of unified plants. Finally, I would like to tie in an educational component highlighting the rain garden’s capacity to reduce runoff and demonstrate a passive technique for addressing stormwater runoff. This will include interpretive signage and an educational lesson to be used by the volunteer guides.

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An independent study project report by The Alice and J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. Endowed Horticulture Intern (2011-2012)
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