Minnesota Rain Garden Manual

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Maintaining Rain-Gardens
Lessons Learned from the Kansas State University Stormwater Management Project
Lee R. Skabelund, Kansas State University Landscape Architecture / Regional & Community Planning Principal Investigator / Project Manager

Konza Prairie near Manhattan, KS Flint Hills Ecoregion

Urban Stormwater Concerns
Throughout Kansas stormwater is typically sent quickly away from developed areas and straight-piped into drainageways, streams, rivers, and ponds. As a result of these and other land-use practices, ecosystems are being severely degraded.

Large amounts of water are also sprayed on lawns, gardens, and other landscapes. Often, very little water replenishes underground water reserves.

Big Blue River Campus Creek Watershed

What can we do to correct these bad habits?
First, we must recognize the connections!
Wildcat Creek

Kansas River

Interweaving Art and Science
K-State’s International Student Center Rain-Garden

The KSU ISC Rain-Garden was constructed by faculty, students and staff in Spring 2007. In Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 Lee Skabelund collaborated with Art students and faculty to create rain-bowls for the ISC Rain-Garden.

ISC Rain-Garden Project


• This collaborative design-build project engaged students, faculty, staff, and professionals in the task of considering ecologically sound ways to treat stormwater that falls on the Kansas State University (KSU) campus. In the process, two specific goals were achieved: 1) Designed and created a rain-garden along a selected area of Campus Creek to reduce stormwater run-off and improve water quality. 2) Demonstrated specific ways to address urban stormwater runoff to KSU administrators, staff, faculty, students, and visitors.

Educational Intent of the Project


Engaging KSU administrators, staff, faculty, students, and local planning/design professionals is deemed essential if substantive changes in stormwater management are to occur on campus and in the larger community.

This collaborative design/build demonstration project involved key stakeholders at KSU and other communities, raising their awareness of best practices, testing design ideas on the ground, and engaging those who influence stormwater management at KSU and beyond.

Rain-Garden Maintenance:
Key Ideas to Remember: 1) Rain-Gardens need to be maintained (there is no free lunch when it comes to maintaining gardens and created or disrupted landscapes). 2) Weeding is essential (although a good hardwood mulch can reduce the number of weeds and make weeding easier). Fertilizing is not needed if you use plants adapted to the region and site. Pruning is rarely needed, though you will likely want to clip back perennials before spring (you may wish to transplant and water in seedlings and/or remove more aggressive perennials if they begin to dominate your garden). 3) Watering during the first growing season is vital (try to strike a balance between providing too much and too little water). If you choose plants well-adapted to your ecoregion and specific site, no watering should be needed once the plants are established. Check for exposed soil and erosion, and add an organic weed-free mulch. If too much sediment is flowing into the garden find the source and stabilize the area (if needed, you may need to reduce the volume or intensity of stormwater flowing into the garden). 4) Draw upon the experience of others, including folks on the east coast, mid-west, Rocky Mountains & west coast.



Community Context

Integrate Your Rain-Garden into your eco-region and site
Key Ideas to Remember: 1) Create a rain-garden that makes sense for your site (size of property, structures and impermeable surfaces; location; soil and sun/shade conditions; etc.) and your maintenance capabilities. 2) Learn what the “weeds” and invasive species are in your area and prepare to remove them from your garden as soon as possible. 3) Choose plants that can handle water and drought. In Kansas our native prairie species are typically best and many these perennial plants of these can be obtained from nurseries such as Kaw River Restoration Nurseries in Lawrence (http://www.appliedeco.com/krrn/) and the Prairie & Wetland Center (http://www.critsite.com/). For more native plant nursery/supplier options refer to: http://www.kansasnativeplantsociety.org/plant_resources.htm 4) Learn from others and from your own experiences (think big, think small; be practical, be ambitious, be creative; know your budget and institutional capacity; have a lot of fun working with soil, water and plants; save water and energy; learn a bunch along the way).

Learning from Precedents: water-sensitive site planning/design project
DOE-Robb Williamson photo DOE-Robb Williamson photo

Excerpted remarks by David W. Orr, Director of Oberlin's Environmental Studies Program, in 1999.
“Three years ago we began the effort to design a building for the Environmental Studies Program. We intended to create not just a place for classes but rather a building that would help to redefine the relationship between humankind and the environment—one that would expand our sense of ecological possibilities. We began by asking: Is it possible—even in Ohio—to power buildings by current sunlight? Is it possible to create buildings that purify their own wastewater? Is it possible to build without compromising human and environmental heath somewhere else or at some later time?”


NASA (unlabled photos); Oberlin College (text & David Orr photo)

http://www.nrel.gov/buildings/highperformance/oberlin_gallery.html http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy03osti/31516.pdf

Water-sensitive site planning/design project
ASLA 2004 award winner

Roof water is collected in carved stone basins, then drains into a grated channel before cascading over a five-foot stone-faced retaining wall. The learning lab and auditorium buildings expand onto the courtyard, which is paved with stone, subtly-colored sandblasted concrete, and tile artifacts (historically manufactured in the watershed). Surrounding forest and meadows are pulled into the courtyard and onto building roofs.

Design by Jones & Jones – Planners, Architects & Landscape Architects

Cedar River Watershed Education Center - Seattle, WA

Source: www.asla.org

Water-sensitive site planning/design project
Andropogon Associates, Ltd.

A new road reveals previously hidden landscapes. A new parking lot integrates multiple functions: parking, water collection, and horticultural display. The lot includes an impervious asphalt roadway, with permeable asphalt parking bays off to the sides. A stormwater recharge bed lies under the entire lot. When it rains, water rapidly disappears through the permeable paving and into the underground basin where it infiltrates into the ground.

Morris Arboretum
Source: www.asla.org

Water-sensitive site planning/design project Coffee Creek, Chesterton, Indiana
Sources: www.coffeecreekwc.org/pages/showgallery_visitor.asp (photos) www.coffeecreekcenter.com/ (text)

Employing Environmental Engineering
Restoration of the Coffee Creek corridor is being implemented with guidance from biologists who understand the local & regional landscape. Level spreaders and vegetation infiltrate water into the soil. The project employs civil engineering without traditional expensive and destructive stormwater drainage systems – and provides a wide range of shared community open space within a 167-acre preserve.
Level Spreader slows runoff


Wetland Cell treats sewage Greenroof

Restoring Native Ecosystems and Habitats
“Unbuilt areas are being restored to a pre-settlement landscape to minimize soil erosion and rebuild soil integrity, re-establish native plant & animal communities and encourage increased bio-diversity.”

Q: How do we restore hydrological processes in urban settings?
Fall 2004 KSU-LAR Stormwater Management Charrette

Instructive Stormwater Management BMPs in the Region

Jackson Street Bioretention Areas, Topeka, KS Discovery Center, Living Machine & Created Wetland Kansas City, MO

Mize Lake Bioretention Cell and Created Wetland, Lenexa, KS

Stormwater Management Charrette at Kansas State University
Oct. 25-27, 2006

Three Guest Speakers/Reviewers and Links to KSU Classes

Integrated Teams and Many Design Ideas…

Ten Teams; Multiple Sites; Reviews & Open House

Potential Stormwater Management Retrofits near KSU’s Derby Dining Complex
ISC/Residence Hall Raingardens, Amphitheater & Pathways
(Fall 2009 charrette; Summer 2010 implementation?)

Moore Hall/Claflin Rd. Bioretention Area (Spring ’09?)

International Student Center Raingarden
(Spring 2007)

Derby Green Roof *

Haymaker & Ford Hall Bioretention Gardens
(Spring ’09?)

* Collaborative
Project with BNIM and other firms
(Fall 2007 Studio Project; includes designing Green Roofs for Seaton Hall and other buildings at KSU; location and construction of a demonstration green roof date TBD)

West & Ford Hall Parking Retrofit
(Summer ’09 construction?)

Boyd Hall/Old Claflin Rd. Raingarden
(Fall ’08 / Spring ’09 implementation?)

Restoring Hydrologic Processes along Campus Creek
The KSU International Student Center Design/Build Rain-Garden Demonstration Project

Project inspired by KSU-LAR Stormwater Management Charrette

Restoring Hydrologic Processes along Campus Creek
The KSU International Student Center Design/Build Rain-Garden Demonstration Project

Taiwan Wing

Korean Room

Planting Plan (Cary Thomsen, KSU-MLA)

Planting & Setting Level-Spreader (4/28/07)

In-process rain-garden photos taken on 5/16/07, 6/2/07, 6/22/07, and 7/16/07.

Restoring Hydrologic Processes along Campus Creek
The KSU International Student Center Design/Build Rain-Garden Demonstration Project

ISC Staff: Photo taken April 23, 2007

The KSU-ISC Rain-Garden

Sep. 7, 2007 photo

Rain-Garden Sign

Sep. 26, 2007 photos

The KSU-ISC Rain-Garden
Campus Creek 10/2/07

October 2, 2007 - photos taken after a 1.2-inch storm event (approximate).

The KSU International Student Center Rain-Garden Plant List
Proposed plants for basins (Feb 2007)

Proposed plants for fringe areas (Feb 2007)

ISC RainGarden Plants (Aug-Sep ’07)


Lessons Learned
Results: participants and visitors recognize the value of water and its role in sustaining developed landscapes and natural ecosystems by considering ways they can harness rainwater for irrigation and ecological renewal. Assessment: Students learned from one another, faculty, and professionals as they collaborated in vertical design teams; presented design ideas to administrators, professionals, faculty & peers; and as they helped implement design ideas at KSU’s International Student Center. They are also involved in maintenance of the ISC Rain-Garden.
12/24/08 5/1/09

Note the water still in the rain-gutter, well after water soaked into heavy clay rain-garden soils


KSU Green Roof Design – Fall 2007
Green roof designs were proposed for a handful of buildings on the K-State Campus in Manhattan, Kansas. Landscape Architecture students visited four constructed green roofs in Kansas City, Missouri; reviewed and discussed the literature related to green roof design, construction and management; and then selected one or more rooftops on which to design a green roof. They spent three weeks asking: What if? What might be? If here, how? Project Sites

Derby Dining Complex

Chalmers & Ackert Halls

Seaton Hall (3)
K-State Union

Three-Week Green Roof Design Project, KSU-LARCP Specialization Studio – Prof. Lee R. Skabelund; Designers – 12 LAR Students.

KSU Green Roof Design – Fall 2007

The Derby green roof would serve as parklike space for walking, reading and studying, conversing and eating, and resting, relaxing and sunbathing.

Three-Week Green Roof Design Project, KSU-LARCP Specialization Studio – Prof. Lee R. Skabelund; Designers – Cole Giesler & Katie Sobcynski.

KSU Green Roof Design – Fall 2007

These green roofs would serve primarily as a research laboratories to study the value of living roofs for energy savings and stormwater management.

Three-Week Green Roof Design Project, KSU-LARCP Specialization Studio – Prof. Lee R. Skabelund; Designers – Kris Coen & Daniel Robben.

KSU Green Roof Design – Fall 2007

This green roof would serve as a research laboratory, outdoor reading room, and social gathering space.
Three-Week Green Roof Design Project, KSU-LARCP Specialization Studio – Prof. Lee R. Skabelund; Designers - Anthony Fox & Chris Morton.

KSU Green Roof Design – Fall 2007

These green roofs would offer research laboratories and a room with a view.
Three-Week Green Roof Design Project, KSU-LARCP Specialization Studio – Prof. Lee R. Skabelund; Designers - Anthony Fox & Chris Morton.

KSU Green Roof Design – Fall 2007
The Union green roof would serve as a space for small social and educational gatherings and for catching a breath of fresh air.

Three-Week Green Roof Design Project, KSU-LARCP Specialization Studio – Prof. Lee R. Skabelund; Designer – Lindsey Scheuneman.

Rossville Rain-Garden – Spring 2008
Working with Prof. Skabelund, Brett Tagtmeyer & Aarthi Padmanabahn (LAR) designed and helped residents lay out the Rossville Rain-Garden.


Current Projects & Next Steps
During Spring 2008 interdisciplinary student teams developed proposals for implementing the first green roof in the Flint Hills Eco-region. Green roof & rain-garden designs are currently being implemented in Manhattan, Kansas.
Our goal is to explore community-andlandscape-appropriate ways to address urban stormwater runoff in many Kansas communities. The WaterLINK program has played a pivotal role in allowing us to design and implement projects by working across disciplines to address stormwater management concerns in the region.
Sunset Zoo Prairie & Rain-Garden Design >
Contributors: Emily King, Lee Adams, Chris Enroth, and Andrew Schaap


Seaton Hall Green Roof: The first test…
Seaton Green Roof exposed upper rooftop
Seaton Hall Details prepared by Michael Knapp & Mark Neibling, with guidance from professors Todd Gabbard, Lee Skabelund, KSU Facilities, Greg Pfau (BNIM), and others. Structural calculations by Jessica Wiles and Dr. Sutton Stephens (Arch. Engineering). Monitoring support from Stacy Hutchinson (BAE) and Mary Knapp (Agronomy and KSU Climatologist). Materials and labor donated by KSU-Facilities, Derbigum, Danker Roofing & American Hydrotech.

Upper breezeway roof – 300 sf; can hold ~64 lbs/sf
Low roofs to east & west – each ~350 sf; can hold ~51 lbs/sf

KSU Seaton Hall Green Roof
Demonstration & Research Project






Interweaving Art and Science
K-State’s International Student Center Rain-Garden


lskab[email protected]

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