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Archive for the ‘rain garden’ Category

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A Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalks the new wetland on the grounds of the Johnson Space Center.

Visiting the Johnson Space Center (JSC), you probably anticipate a vision of a high tech future in space.  But to address a more down-to-earth aspect of the space center’s operation, Chris LaChance and I were invited to NASA by Sandy Parker of the JSC Environmental Office to consult on transforming a landscape problem area from boggy lawn to JSC’s first created wetland.

The JSC landscape maintenance contractor, Prodyn EPES, needed a way to deal with the water that pooled in a low spot between a weather station building, parking lots, and a jogging trail. It tended to be too wet to mow, so something else had to be done—and done on a tight budget. At about 2200 square feet, it was too large to be economically practical as a rain garden, which can sometimes require considerable excavation, an underdrain, porous soils, and a selection of predominantly nursery-raised native plants. Chris thought the site had more potential as a created wetland, so she brought me along on the mission.

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Lisa Stiffler compiles a long list of rain garden studies in a recent blog post and explains in plain English the benefits of a rain garden in removing pollutants from stormwater runoff.  Check out “Are Rain Gardens Mini Toxic Cleanup Sites” for a great overview of rain garden research.

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Planted wetlands help protect Brays Bayou

Planted wetlands help protect Brays Bayou

Over-watering causes runoff.

Over-watering causes runoff.

Armand Bayou leads to Galveston Bay

Armand Bayou leads to Galveston Bay

What is your watershed address? If you do not have an answer then it probably means you are not sure how or even if you are connected to Galveston Bay. Actually, everyone lives in a watershed whether or not a body of water is in view. Simply put, a watershed is the land from which water drains on its way to the nearest bayou, river, lake or bay. Your watershed address bears the name of that accepting water body. For example, I live in the White Oak Bayou Watershed. Water from my yard makes its way into the stormdrain and flows, unfiltered, to White Oak Bayou and ultimately empties into Galveston Bay.
Galveston Bay is a complex mixture of salt and fresh water and is teaming with life. On the land, it is surrounded by prairies and marshes which form rich estuaries, or nurseries, for marine species like crabs, shrimp and oysters. The entire area supports a vibrant, diverse wildlife population. Galveston Bay also ends up being a repository for pollutants found in urban runoff. Stormwater, or rainwater, flows from surfaces that cannot absorb water—impervious surfaces like roofs, streets and parking lots—and from our own landscapes carrying with it substances like motor oil, litter, fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste that all end up in the bay. One way we can make a difference in the health of our watershed and of Galveston Bay is to use landscaping practices that are bay-friendly—working with, not against nature. (more…)

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Watch as we install a rain garden at the Dickinson Public Library.

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