The Friends of the Scioto River has developed the first rain garden in a City park on the West Side, in Westgate Park.
Planning began in 2008, as part of improvements around the shelter house on Wicklow Drive. The City planned to enlarge and pave an existing gravel lot, and add a small loop road.
FOSR suggested adding a rain garden to the plans, and the City approved. In consultation with Columbus Recreation and Parks, the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, a design firm, and the paving contractor, we determined the area to be drained, and the area and depth of the basin to catch the water.
This included digging a test hole, and filling it with water, to determine how quickly the soil would absorb the water. Rain gardens are typically designed to drain within 24 – 48 hours.
FOSR approached the management of the Cardinal Health expansion project in Dublin, asking for permission to gather some of the limestone that had been excavated on the site. Permission was granted, and members of the Friends of Westgate Park joined us in hauling stone to the park. (FOSR also made a separate trip to gather some of the same limestone for the COSI rain garden.)
Work paused over the winter, until paving season began. The new lot was laid out and paved, and the garden’s basin was dug. The contractor laid gravel and installed a drain running from a nearby ball field that also had flooding problems. FOSR bought organic fill and topsoil, then volunteers laid the stones around the perimeter.
With the help of FSWCD and the CRPD’s Naturalist (whose position has since been eliminated), we selected plants native to central Ohio. Rain garden plants need to be tolerant of both wet and dry conditions.
We got an assortment of flowering plants from Wild Birds Unlimited, and put them in. We let these settle in for a few days, then we went to Scioto Gardens in Delaware to get a second round of larger grasses and shrubs. With these in place, the planting was complete.
Next we had to wait for rain! Some quick heavy July showers proved the basin was catching runoff, which was gradually draining away. Now we will watch the garden settle in, and see which plants do best in which conditions. We can make adjustments as they become necessary.
FOSR encourages property owners to consider adopting rain gardens and other stormwater management techniques such as rain barrels, to conserve water and ease strain on the City’s stormwater system.
More information can be found online at sciotoriverfriends.org/westgate/westgateraingarden.html.