At the beginning of this semester I was at a loss as to what to do for my project. I knew that I wanted to create something that had meaning, and would have an influence on the surrounding community. I originally thought of making improvements to the Ohio Wildlife Center’s Pre-Release Center. However, after a few weeks of class one of my classmates switched projects from the retention pond gardens to exploring what it means to be vegan. As a result, someone was needed to head the rain garden project. I was delighted to be that someone.
This project consists of building two rain gardens near the retention pond outside of Meek Aquatics Center at Ohio Wesleyan University. This project fit my desires to make a difference on campus. Rain gardens are effective mitigation strategies to reduce flooding, and non-point source pollution in urban areas. When Meek Aquatics Center was built the contractors implemented as many environmentally friendly techniques that were feasible. The implementation of the retention pond was to mitigate runoff from the roof that now replaces porous soil. Building rain gardens on this area of campus will continue the center’s ideal for environmental sustainability.
Additionally, these rain gardens will consist of native Ohio plants. This way, they will provide habitat for native fauna including amphibians, butterflies, bees and other wildlife. They would also add to the aesthetic appeal to this otherwise flat, barren area of campus. As a result, this project not only increases Ohio Wesleyan’s environmental sustainability, but it beautifies the area while providing habitat for native wildlife.
This project was originally started by Caitlin Mcnougtan and Cynthia Hastings in 2014 when they studied the broader ecological impacts of the aquatics center. The project was then picked up by Luke Steffen in 2015 who sought to mitigate the ecological impacts previously reported. He found that installing plants around the pond would be the best proposed solution. He then took the required steps to plan the rain gardens. After consulting with B&G and various professors he was granted permission to have these gardens implemented on two sites. The first site is bordering the brick column near the pond, the other on the northwest side of the pond.
He then researched native wetland plants and drew schematics for possible layout design. This project also received 800 dollars in funding from FLOW. That is where I picked up. First, I analyzed his drawn schematics. I consulted Dr. Dan Fink to double check whether the plants chosen were fit for the site. We found that as a whole, the plants chosen were appropriate. However, I discovered that the organization of these plants on the plots could be improved. I moved the species placement based on average plant height, water tolerance and color. This way, the gardens will be the most aesthetically pleasing while giving the plants the best chance to survive.
To garner a better visual of the finished product and layout, I made a poster of my finished design. With actual pictures of the plants to be implemented, I made visual representations of both finished plots. This took a solid whole night.
Lastly, I organized the plant order. The group we have been working with (FLOW) suggested Cardno Nursery located in Indiana. This nursery specializes in native plants and has many purchasing options. Plants can be ordered as seeds, plugs, quarts or gallons. Upon further consultation with Dr. Dan Fink, we decided that plugs were the best for purchase. Plus are cheaper than gallons so we can order an abundance of them. However, they will also be weaker since they have not had as much growth. We hope that our abundance will make up for the lesser survivability. Seeds are usually the cheapest by they have the lowest survivability outlook.
According to Cardno’s webste, plugs could be bought in quantities of 35 or 50. I calculated how much land mass each species will take on a plot, and bought the corresponding number of plugs based on how much land they will need to cover. I placed the order. I heard back from Dena Miller at the nursery the next day and was informed that plugs can only be bought in quantities of fifty. This change puts us at a quote of 1,027 dollars, 227 dollars over budget. I was also informed that the plants need ample time to grow now that spring has finally arrived. Therefore, they will not be ready to be shipped until late may.
Currently, we are looking for additional funding to pay for the plant order. Hopefully, FLOW will be able to provide additional funding. If not, then we are prepared to submit a sip. Grant at Ohio Wesleyan to cover the remaining cost. Lastly, a memo was prepared to touch base with all of the people and companies involved before planting starts. Questions were raised such as acquiring tools, soil, rocks, and sand. We also inquired about the nursery having a possible discount for projects aimed toward education or are not-for-profit.
Overall, this project still has a ways to go. We still need extra funds to cover the remaining cost of the plant order. A trench needs to be built to lay the foundation of the gardens. This will require at least a days work and the help of a few volunteers. Then, we will finally be able to plant it!
It’s going to look awesome.