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Stormwater the Smart Way

dragonfly, bioretention pond, stormwater detention pondIt really helps to slow storm water down! Retention, detention, bioretention, and sediment basins as well as wet or dry enhanced swales are some of the tools that can be used to do that. Engineers and some specialized landscape architects are the ones who calculate storm water velocity and flow to size pipes and basins. What if you have been given the responsibility to design planting plans to go with those well-crafted structures?

First, visit the site and look around to see what plant species are currently volunteering to grow in the area.  Those plants will be the ones to choose and specify for the best survival rates.

Contact the basin designer and find out if the basin has been sized to handle more than enough of the expected storm water flow.  The most frequent problems result from undersized basins.  Then find out who will be maintaining the finished product.  It might be surprising to find out that no one has considered the maintenance responsibilities, so adding a maintenance plan to your planting design could be the biggest favor you can do for your client.

If no one will be available to hand-weed the basin on a regular basis, then forget about using any trees or shrubs in the area. The one maintenance task that almost every government entity or owner is willing to provide is mowing, so plan on using only plant species that can survive being mowed once or twice a year.  Besides, you don’t want tree roots damaging the carefully constructed berms holding the storm water in place so it can slowly perk into the ground.

You can find more information about trees in The Advanced Guide to Environmental Mitigation Planting: Healing Disturbed SItespart of The Advanced Guide series.

New Article! Should You Mulch a Bioretention Basin?