Planning Your Rain Garden: Site Considerations

Jeff Schloss
Extension Professor and Water Resources Specialist UNH Cooperative Extension UNH Center for Freshwater Biology
Rain Garden Workshop Wednesday, June 1, 2011 Urban Forestry Center, Portsmouth, NH

Site Selection & Design: Considerations
• Where to build
– What to treat – Placement
• Best Sites • Precautions • Orientation
Don Knezik

• Sizing

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

– Treatment Volume (Area) – Site Conditions (Depth)

• Inlet/Outlet Considerations • Problematic Conditions and Solutions

Curtis Helm

Typical Rain Garden Purposes
• Capture rain gutter outfall • Driveway or sidewalk treatment • Parking area treatment • Street runoff treatment • Patio treatment • Compacted soil/lawn treatment • To ―daylight‖ underground drainages Between two impervious surfaces to disconnect runoff or to protect a receiving water

Rain Garden System

Installation Steps
Level the Lowest Zone (Ponding Area)

Why we want a rain garden: Dealing With Home-Site Runoff
Potential Contributing Waters Sources

• From Off-site
– Roads, Neighboring Properties

• From Your Site
– Driveways, Boat ramps, Foot paths, Compacted Surfaces, Patios – Roof Line, Gutters, Sump Pumps – Seeps

Site Assessment & Inventory
•Wet areas •Seeps/Springs •Paved Areas •Compacted Areas •Point Sources •Culvets •Drains •Sumps •Paths/Trails •Concentrated Flows •Flat Areas •Sloped Areas

Site Drawing
From: ―Landscaping at the Water’s Edge: An ecological approach (UNH CE)‖

Walk the Property For Suburban/Urban Areas Identify the following… • Rooftop gutters and downspouts (if any) – Do they discharge above ground? – Are they directly connected to the road? – Are they directly connected to the underground storm sewer? • Existing stormwater infrastructure – Curb/gutter for the parking lot or driveway – Catch basins and storm sewers • Look into the catch basins • What is the direction of pipe flow? – Open channel conveyance swales/ditches – Detention basins

Areas to Avoid
• • • •
• • • •

Septic Systems*, Leach Fields, Wells Wet areas, ledge and high water table (need 2’) Uphill side of constructed retaining wall Away from utility lines, irrigation systems, clean outs, water meters Within 10 feet of basement** Below or next to large trees Heavy foot traffic areas Slopes greater than 12%

* At least 25 feet and upslope from septic box and leach field ** Minimum distance more if conditions warrant

Remember to Call for a Mark Out of Utility Lines Also Check for Lawn Irrigation
http://www.digsafe.com/ Call at least 3 business days before excavation!

Best Places for Installation
• Flat areas with well drained soils are ideal • Conduct a ―perc‖ test for soil infiltration
– – – – Dig a 4‖ to 6‖ wide by 12‖ deep hole Percolation Test Fill with water and let drain over time Refill empty hole to 1‖ below top and mark level Check water depth every hour for at least 4 hours

• 1.5 ― per hour is good drainage • If drainage rate is less- can amend the soil
4th 3rd 2nd Hour 1st Hour
Ruler

Sizing Your Rain Garden
• Most residential rain gardens are 100300 ft2 • General approach:
– Depth dictated by soil type/percolation – Area then calculated to account for treatment volume

• Treatment volume calculated as length x width of contributing area (SA) x water quality design storm (WQDS)

6” Deep Rain Garden (No Soil Amendments)
Open (Shallow Depression)

6‖

9‖

3‖

Triple-Shredded Hardwood Mulch

Native Soil

3” Deep Rain Garden (With Soil Amendments)
Open (Shallow Depression)

3‖

9‖

3‖

Triple-Shredded Hardwood Mulch

3‖

Coarse Sand and Compost Mixture

Native Soil

Rooftop Scenario

Surface Area = Length x Width

Drainage Area

Length

Width

Hockman Farm, Winchester, Virginia

Contributing Area From Road

Photo Credit: Rusty Schmidt

Drainage Area

Road, Driveway, or Estimating Area of Parking Lot Scenario

Roads, Parking Lots, Driveways

• Estimating the drainage area can be difficult • Surveying equipment is helpful • What can you do? – Obtain site plans and/or speak with the building manager – Use the ―get wet‖ method—go out in the rain.

• Consider…
– Parking lots and driveways are often pitched to convey water to one side or both sides (look for a slight ridge in the center) – Sediment deposits along curbs are evidence of flow direction – If there is not curb, dead grass patches, sediment and erosion are evidence of where the water leaves the asphalt

What Is the WQDS?
Background:
• 90% of storms in northeast are 1‖ or less
• In the Northeastern United States, capturing 90 percent of the annual runoff is on average, roughly equivalent to capturing and treating the first one-inch of stormwater runoff for each rainfall event. • NH design standard (required) = 1‖ of rain • Maine = 1‖, NJ = 1.25‖

So now we have a formula!
Drainage Area (sq ft) x Water Quality Design Storm (ft)

Rain Garden Sizing Table for NJ’s Water Quality Design Storm

Depth of Rain Garden (ft)

= Size of Rain Garden (base)
Depth: depends on the soil texture
CLAY = 3 in = 0.25 ft

Drainage Area: the impervious surface that you’re collecting the stormwater runoff from
NH Water Quality Design Storm or Better: 1 inch of rain over a 2 hour period 1.0 inch = 0.08 feet 1.25 inches = 0.1 feet

LOAMY = 6 in = 0.5 ft
SANDY = 8 in = 0.67 ft

Minimum Sizing for Rain Gardens
3" Deep Drainage 6" Deep 8" Deep Clay + Area ft2 Loamy Sandy Amend.

500 750 1000 1500 2000

160 240 320 480 640
32%

80 120 160 240 320
16%

59 89 119 179 238
12%

Note: It is highly recommended to oversize the rain garden to account for runoff volume estimation error, variable percolation conditions, increasing impervious surfaces and more flashy storm events.

Example – Saugerties Community Center, Ulster County, NY Width= 20 ft Length=25 ft 500 ft2 x 0.1 ft * 0.25 ft = 200 ft2

Drainage Area

Width

Length

Saugerties Community Center, Ulster County, New York

So, the Saugerties Community Center demonstration rain garden will be 200 sq ft and 3 in deep. (* used WQDS of 1.25‖)

The Parts of a Rain Garden

Inlet/ Splash Pad Berm Depression Ponding Area Depression Berm

How will the stormwater runoff enter the rain garden?
• Extended downspout/gutter/culvert

• Diversion berm along the bottom of slope
• Vegetated or stone-lined swales • Stone or concrete spillway • Across lawn via gradual slope • Paved surface

Road, Driveway, or With a curb (curb cut needed) Parking Lot Scenario

Photo Credit: Barr Engineering, Minneapolis, MN

Where will the excess stormwater runoff go in a heavy storm event?
• Overflow is away from buildings • Berm higher near building • Overflow sheets over lawn or garden • Overflow sheets over driveway or walkway • Flows onto street - an existing storm drain can be used as an outlet for a rain garden

Typical Installation of Overflow
Prepare the Overflow

Overflow
Gloucester County 4-H Fairgrounds

Photos: Rutgers Extension
Leonard Park, Morris County

Utilizing Existing Infrastructure: Catch Basin with a Berm Example

BERM
CATCH BASIN

Gloucester County DREAM Park

Photos: Rutgers Extension

Rushmore St. Burnsville, MN

RG Full = Off line

System Overflow

Challenging Conditions
• • • • High groundwater table Clay and compacted soils Non-residential high volume site Integrating rain garden with existing infrastructure

Low Depth to Water table

Adding Soil Amendments to Adjust for Clay Conditions

• •

Coarse sand and/or compost should be used Requires amending at least an additional 3-6 inches of the existing soil The clay soil that you remove can be reused for the berm
Only use heavy equipment around the perimeter of the rain garden

Bioretention Cell

Cross Section of Rain Garden/ Bioretention Basin
BASIN SLOPE NATIVE PLANTINGS

4 IN. MULCH LAYER

2.5-3.0 FT. PLANTING SOIL BED (MIN. PERMEABILITY 0.5 IN. PER HOUR)

12 IN. SAND BED

12 IN. GRAVEL BED 4 IN. PERF. PVC PIPE FILTER FABRIC

Cross Section of Rain Garden/ Bioretention Basin
BASIN SLOPE NATIVE PLANTINGS

3 IN. MULCH LAYER

1 – 3 FT. PLANTING SOIL BED (MIN. PERMEABILITY 1 IN. PER HOUR)

12 IN. GRAVEL BED w/ PEA GRAVEL CHOKER COURSE 4 IN. PERF. PVC PIPE FILTER FABRIC

A newly planted bioretention cell installed in the Dudley Pond watershed (Wayland, MA).

Terraced bio-infiltration system (Plymouth, MA)

Lesson:

Sloped areas can be put to work!

Underdrain Cross Section
Existing slope

Discharge point 3 to 6 in. deep ponding area Berm

Gradual pipe angle

Underdrain pipe can also discharge to existing infrastructure

•Curb and gutter

Stone bed

•Catch basins
•Underground storm sewer pipe

Thank You! Any questions?

Photo: AWWA

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