Water Management School Garden
Stormwater and Erosion
In 2009 we had our first look at the future home of the Watts edible schoolyard. One of our first observations was the tremendous amount of water that moved through the area. Directly below 3 downspouts, dumping thousands of gallons of water from the school’s roof, water eroded away denuded soil into a stormwater drain 100 feet away. A new garden would have just washed away without some group problem solving between Bountiful Backyards and George Watts PTA. Our first challenge was to slow the movement of water in order to stop erosion and improve stormwater quality. We also needed to store as much water as possible at the top of the site to reduce the water needs of newly planted fruit trees and berry bushes.
With the help of parents and neighborhood volunteers, we dug a large rain garden at the top of the slightly sloped space. A rain garden is a shallow depression planted to filter and slow rainwater. A beautiful array of moisture loving plants thrive in rain gardens–native paw paw, beautyberry, and hibiscus to name just a few of the towering beauties. The berm at the bottom of the rain garden creates an nutrient rich edge that is a perfect home for highbush blueberries. Because they are elevated a bit, the blueberries benefit from the water and nutrients percolating out from the rain garden while getting the good drainage they need in order to thrive.
Below the rain garden we designed and planted an educational garden made up of 5 distinct but mutually supportive planting areas: an annual vegetable garden, butterfly garden, shady medicinal and tea garden, and throughout, delicious fruit trees and berry bushes. The diversity of plants made it a perfect spot for teachers to get their students out of the classroom and into the sunshine.
Tying it All Together
The edible landscape at Watts is loaded with perennial edibles. Planting perennials that live for decades is an investment that pays off through time. Fruit trees and berry bushes yield prolifically–at maturity, the plants at Watts will collectively produce more than 250 pounds of fruit per year. We designed as much spring and fall ripening fruit as possible for harvests during the school year. Now persimmons, blackberries, edible dogwoods and much more grow with each generation of students who pass through the school.
“This garden is an asset to the entire school.
We all love it!”
– Watts School