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We Never Promised You a Rain Garden

But You Got One Anyway!

Rain Garden: Early StagesStudents, faculty and alumni from NHTI's Landscape and Environmental Design (LED) program joined forces this spring to design and install the school's first-ever Rain Garden just outside the main entrance to the Goldie Crocker Wellness Center.  A rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden that uses soil, mulch, and plants to capture, absorb, and treat stormwater runoff.  This reduces the amount of stormwater coming from our property, and helps to recharge groundwater.

Left to right: Johanna Blais, Joe Geisler,
Michael Shawver and Bao Huynh
in the early stages of construction of the rain garden.

Stormwater runoff is water from rain or melting snow that doesn’t soak into the ground.  Instead, it flows over the land surface, picks up pollutants in its path, and flows untreated into nearby bodies of water.  Stormwater runoff can pollute lakes, ponds, streams, and coastal waters, making them unsafe for swimming and creating an unsafe habitat for fish and other animals.  Runoff can cause other problems such as flooding and erosion.  In fact, stormwater runoff contributes to over 90% of the water quality problems in New Hampshire.

If you've ever stood outside the entrance to the Wellness Center during a rain storm, you've seen the water pour off the roof and go flooding over the ground and down the storm drain.  According to Susanne Smith Meyer, Coordinator of the LED Program, all the storm drains on campus flow directly into the Merrimack River, so this untreated water is going directly into the water supply.

Rain Garden: Ready for PlantingIn 2013-14, NHTI received an EPA grant -- administered through Campus Compact -- to promote environmental stewardship among students, with specific reference to the issues of climate change and water quality.  The rain garden was designed under this grant, in partnership with the NH Dept of Environmental Services.

Ready for Planting: Joe, Johanna, and Johanna's
10-year-old son son Gunner survey their work.

The garden was designed by Ronny Stelly, a 2014 graduate of the Landscape and Environmental Design program.  It features four layers of stone, soil, loam and mulch, and a dozen varieties of water-tolerant plants.  The mix includes flowering plants like iris, liatris, Black-eyed Susan and sedum, so the garden will be attractive as well as functional; in fact, the design includes a small viewing bench.

Stormwater flowing into the garden will be captured, absorbed and filtered, gradually seeping down into the aquifer below.  Only the most extreme weather events should cause the garden to overflow, sending excess water into the storm drain.

The rain garden was constructed by Susanne Smith Meyer, Adjunct Professor Joe Geisler (NHTI '99), Landscape Design student Bao Huynh, graduating LED seniors Michael Shawver and Johanna Blais, and Johanna's son Gunner ("the world's hardest-working 10-year-old").

Don't leave campus this spring without checking it out!

Rain Garden Design