Chesapeake Awareness Week was the first week in June and the celebration kicked off with a Stormwater Tour!
On May 31st, two busloads of landscape architects, designers, engineers, and environmental professionals took a three hour tour of green infrastructure sites, soils, and plants. The sites are managed by Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Montgomery Parks, MCPS and private communities. Together, these groups have been working to deliver the highest quality, and most innovative, green infrastructure practices in the region.
Working with members of Maryland and Potomac American Society of Landscape Architects, the tour focused on five sites which represent a range of project scales and soil and plant treatments. The tour highlighted the many ways that green infrastructure improves water quality, one beautiful garden at a time, as part of the bigger effort to protect the Bay.
DEP is retrofitting and repairing a small subwatershed using multiple green infrastructure practices, such as rain gardens, bioretentions, and stream restoration. The projects are combined with biological and water quantity monitoring, both before and after construction.
The group learned about the challenges that informed planting design changes after installation, including retrofitting plantings to create an improved streetscape, curb step outs and a groundcover layer to reduce weeds.
At Lanark Way, DEP Planners Darian Copiz and Ryan Zerbe described how a partnership between DOT and DEP transformed both a neighborhood cut-through and the streetscape into a place the community truly gathers around. The watershed outreach sign regarding pet waste was really appreciated.
There was a lively discussion regarding plant selection – what was working, what might be done differently, how the sweeps of plants created patterns, and the challenges of differing light levels for plant selection and strong curb appeal. Additional questions about frequency of maintenance, choice of materials for check dams, and overall plant management were of great interest to the group.
At Glenwaye Gardens, a multi-family community, the group heard from Property Manager Vicki Verganni, DEP Planner Dan Somers, and Designer Toni Bailey about the range of projects that the affordable housing community is implementing to solve their site erosion and water runoff issues which were negatively impacting their property.
A comprehensive conservation landscape approach, per the design guidance from the RainScapes program, included compost amended soils and “boomerang terrace berms” to slow down water from the large roof. The 4400 SF project is planted with a 100% native plants. The slope contouring slows the flow as it moves down the hill through a planted series of terraces.
The next stop was to an MCPS site: Glenallan Elementary School. Everyone learned about the design and the maintenance challenges on the redeveloped site. The school is successfully integrating all of their green infrastructure into their STEM program.
After Engineer Phil Jones explained the engineering design, Patrick Moran, GES Principal explained how the school uses the stormwater facilities as an educational resource.
Brookside Gardens is a showcase of green infrastructure projects from top to bottom.
At the lower part of Brookside, DEP RainScapes Program Manager Ann English explained how the original rain garden/ microbioretention at Brookside solved a 20 year drainage problem. She also talked about some of the unique challenges to creating a rain garden/ permeable paver retrofit complex that was nested in a display bed that was being changed seasonally.
At the top of Brookside, Landscape Architect Steve Torgerson explains how the bioswale works and how the planting on top links the two sides of the bridge even though the soil areas are very different at the top of the Brookside Parking Garden.