Whether its building a rain garden for a homeowner or re working an acre of land to better manage stormwater runoff, I can design a water wise and beautiful landscape to solve your particular needs. I have taken native plant cerfication course and continuing ed course to learn and growmy knowledge over the years. In this section I will post a few partners and projects that illustrate restorative landscape solutions.
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve
bioswale capturing runoff
New stone access point
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is a collaborative effort between many partners. It sits on 465 acres and has just added an additional tract across the street. Steep slopes, rock outcrops, a swiftly running creek fed with spring water is host to a wide array of wild plants and animals. One species, the Vermillion darter, is an endangered species whose niche habitat happens to be downstream from where we were working. The area in question was overrun with privet and wisteria and was being undercut by high waters during rain events.
In an effort to stabilize the bank and also increase biodiversity which will in turn create a healthier ecosystem Charles Yeager the preserve manager and Birmingham Southern College contacted me about working on this project.
A site plan was drawn up by Goodwin Mills and Caywood a local design firm and Action Environmental pitched in the use of their earth mopving equipment and some manpower to assist in the setting of the large stone steps. Each stone was in the 900 -1400 lbs range. The reason they were so large is to prevent them from being displodged during a high water event. We took additional precautions with how we layered in extra heavy landscape cloth and laid a base of surge stone under each layer.
INstalling this project I had to adapt the type of stone used or budgetary reasons, selecting native irregular stone instead which lends this stair a natural feel. A local highway project offered use of some large boulders for armoring the sides.
In addition we used a technique called live staking where you take cutting from local riparian species cut their ends to sharpen them and then drive into the bank to a depth of about 2 feet. These plants will root and grow into a new plant and help satbilize the bank. Many native grasses, perennials and other shrubs and trees were also planted to do much the same. A 10 lbs bag of native seed was broadcast as well then mulched with straw.
Native plants selected from the design list and locally harvested plants as well nursery plants i have grown were used to finish the design.
We also thought to address the water flowing to this area from the land behind it. With all the soil from the stair excavation at our disposal i had the team build two berms which my crew then planted more native plants and locally harvested seed along with volunteers.
The people who helped on this project are many and if you visit the Turkey Creek Facebook page they will likely have mention of many of them.
So far the project has been functioning well with several high water events come and gone.
In addition to all this I have brought all of my remaining plants to this area to create a Native plant nursery and teaching garden in partnership with Charles and the Preserve. Look for plant sales or other events coming up this season!
Visit Turkey Creek Nature Preserve on facebook for more info!
the scale of these steps is grand 900 lbs or more per stone
INvasives removal was a large part of the project.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center storm water landscaping
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center sits amidst 1100 acres of forested land once utilized for the steel industry. I was asked to help with several projects once the new Leed ceritfied center was installed mainly to help with slope stabilization, stormwater management and re introduction of native species.
The first project was directly adjacent to the center and my solution, as seen in the sketch, was to create a series of impediments for the water to encounter. Moss rock, logs and compost were used and lateral channels were cut into the slope. Native plants like Fragrant sumac, beautyberry, ironweed, trillium and bluestem grasses (many from the mountain itself) were used. This is for several reason, first being local genotype is better adapted to site specific conditions and fluctations. Another reason is ecosystme services rendered by these species is maintained for the organisms relying upon them, Lastly aesthetic continuity is at least attempted and with time the landscape will blend with its surroundings. All in all its been an intersting project to witness over time as the succession of species takes place. Visit
www.ruffnermountain.org for more info
Rain Garden My next task was to address the serious erosion problem that ocurred during rain events from parking lot runoff. With impervious surfaces water flows unhindered and gains velocity, collects pollutants and when it enters the landscape it can cause damage or flow into our streams and rivers further degrading the environment. Rain gardens are good at solving several of these problems. They first slow the water down allowing silt and pollutants to settle some. The vegetation they contain, especially if native to the region and adapted to wet conditions, will further soak up water and reduce the downstream flow. The water contained also seeps into the soils passively watering the plantings.
After locating the main flow of water I decided to create a swale and berm system that would catch and direct the water laterally into a larger basin. At the exit point I placed a log cross wise to again act as a break and small waterfall before entering the drain tiles. downhill from this i placed more logs and rocks in a zigzag pattern with coir logs embedded within. A smaller basin is at the bottom of the water course as a final stopping point before exiting the property. I installed a few plants i knew would do well in this situation, swamp dogwood a native to streambanks and swamps, juncus also a wetland native, witchhazels that grow into small trees enjoy having wet feet.
The final touches here were applied during our Rain Garden work shop taught by Michelle Reynolds and myself, where we took our lessons outside and planted the rest of the rain garden with perennials and grasses suited to the edge and a few more wetland species within the basin. The plants had to be watered some through our Alabama summer which gets hot and dry but over time the rain garden will fill out and be a nice asset to the campus at Ruffner.