What started as a simple stormwater assessment to become a member of Community Partners for Clean Streams has blossomed into a flourishing rain garden at the Ann Arbor Seventh Day Adventist Church! The need to manage a flooding issue combined with an interest in rain gardens and pollinator promotion has not only solved a concerning water issue at the church, but has also turned into a fun and beautiful educational and stewardship opportunity.
Church elder, Scott, first became interested in creating a rain garden at the church after a visit from the Washtenaw County E2P2 program. Rain gardens capture rain water runoff from hard surfaces like parking lots and roofs and help it soak slowly into the ground. The soil acts like a natural filter to help remove pollutants and clean the water. Slowing down runoff and stopping pollutants and debris from rushing into storm drains helps to keep our streams and rivers clean and healthy.
After a garden design was created specifically for the church, Scott decided to take the Master Rain Gardener course. During one of the classes, he found out about the mini-sponsorship opportunity offered by the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioners Office.
Scott put together a presentation to get everyone at the church on board and opened up the process to anyone who wanted to be involved. To get started, the rain garden team did a water trickle test across the large parking lot to see exactly where the water flowed and where it pooled. That’s where they placed the rain garden.
From there Scott describes the process as a “text book rain garden” project. Over one month in the spring of 2018, three volunteers helped to dig out and install the garden with over 250 plants from 11 species. The rain gardeners followed the design plan the county had provided and the Master Rain Gardener cookbook exactly as directed.
As the plants grew and the garden established over the summer months, church members were able to watch a beautiful, successful project come to life. The success of the plants after just one growing season is awesome. Water used to run towards the building and create large puddles along the sidewalk. Now, the flooding issues have stopped and the garden continues to teach the value of native plants, stewardship and the environment.
The garden was such an inspiration that Scott created a second garden design for another area nearby. This design included many of the same plants with a few exciting additions! An outlet drain was uncovered during installation and was repaired in order to assist with stormwater. Now both systems are working together to increase the amount of water that can soak into the ground.
The project has been such a success that the team is considering future plans for additional rain gardens and native plantings at the Church as well as new locations of interest to members. We’re excited to see this garden flourish and thrive as its roots dig deeper and the plants grow over the coming years.