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bio swales and their place in your water management system

Have you found stagnant puddles breeding bugs on the grounds of your business? Does your parking lot empty its stormwater runoff directly in to a storm sewer that backs up and dumps oily water right back on your customers? Or maybe you bought property for your new commercial establishment and want to start your water management system out right? You will find that you have many ways of dealing with stormwater runoff, but not all of them are right for your property. Bio-swales, however, just might be a good choice.

What Is A Bio-Swale?

A 'swale' can have four meanings, but they all have to do with depressions in the ground that catch water. The type of swale we're talking about here is shallow ditch that is made to carry stormwater runoff and snow melt away from places like parking lots. A bio-swale (sometimes called a vegetated swale) has sides that slope gently and plants, compost and/or rocks filling it. It catches pollutants from the water and either neutralizes them or holds them out of the sewage system. This protects the local watershed and mimics the natural filtering actions of the environment, which is why it is considered a low-impact development.

Benefits

We are big fans of bio-swales. They improve the local water, give natural habitats to wildlife, and stabilize stream flows from runoff. You can also find them beneficial to your business.

1. They're pretty. Whether you are running a hotel, a housing community or a store, your customers will appreciate the vision of natural beauty on your grounds. It makes parks, resorts and hotels welcoming, and encourages shoppers to slow down and enjoy your goods.

2. Reduces money spent on infrastructure. If you run a park or similar enterprise, you will appreciate that bio-swales cost less than underground pipes. They reduce the cost of grading and clearing your land, and they cut down on the erosion that stormwater causes. We can make them out of existing drainage ditches, and they are easy to install from scratch.

3. They are incredibly easy to maintain. They need no fertilizer, only seasonal trimming and very little watering. You should check the soil infiltration yearly, but the really important act as far as maintenance goes is monitoring the amount of debris and silt that the bio-swale is catching. We can clean it out for you, and you will find it easy to clean out yourself.

Designing Your Bio-Swale

When we put in bio-swales, we have quite a few things to consider in order to make it really fit with your property. The most important are:

1. Slope. The National Resource Conservation Department recommends a side slope no steeper than 3:1, or less than 5 percent. This keeps the water flowing at a reasonably slow rate that won't uproot the filling in the swale and encourages the water to filter through the soil at more than one-half inch per hour.

2. Size. A bio-swale's biggest contribution to cleaning runoff is its ability to deal with all the little rains throughout the year, but it needs to be able to deal with big storms, too. You have to make sure it is big enough to handle 4.3 inches in a day.

3. Filling. Generally, native plants are hardy enough to suck up pollutants such as fertilizer runoff, pathogens, and lead. Thick, heavy grasses are particularly good for filtering. This doesn't dismiss the beauty and utility of gravel and compost fillers, mind. It's just that deep-rooted native plants are the preferred way to go.

4. Shape and Placement. The swale will ultimately empty out somewhere. We want to make sure it starts in the right spot in the treatment train and ends somewhere far away from your buildings.

We would also need to take into account the soil type, groundwater table, and the dimensions of your property. Bio-swales don't work well where the groundwater table is high since the soil won't absorb the stormwater, and they really work best in areas that are less than 10 acres. If you have a really large property, we can put in more than one.

Chapel Valley Landscape Company prides itself on its holistic approach to water management, and we would love to see if a bio-swale is right for your property. If your think your business could use one, let us know and we'll come out to check for you.

Schedule a consultation today!

is a rain garden right for your commercial establishment woodbine md chapel valley

Water management for a commercial establishment requires a holistic approach. You want it to do more than introduce water where it is needed and take it out of places where it isn't. It should give your business a classy look and save you from dealing with stormwater runoff.

A commercial irrigation technique we like to use for dealing with stormwater runoff is creating a rain garden. It's catching on in urban areas as a means of preventing flooding and giving businesses a lush, relaxed look. It adds water to local aquifers, too, and that aids everyone. If you are interested in adding one to your business landscape, read on.

What Is A Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are planted depressions that are designed to absorb rainfall and stormwater runoff, along with the excess nutrients that come with them. In the US, the EPA calls them a 'low impact development,' and encourages them as a good way to deal with runoff. An entire yard can act as a rain garden if you have it made with water runoff in mind. Landscapers plant them with perennials and native plants that can withstand extra moisture and will act as natural filters for all the water it collects.

Planning Basics

We have done quite a few rain gardens, and we know each business has different requirements. Some of the commercial irrigation basics we will be considering are:

1. Location, location, location. Just as with real estate, picking the right spot for your rain garden can make or break a landscape. You need to place it in a sunny spot where it will catch the most runoff, but not too close to foot traffic or your building. You will want to place your garden away from utilities, building foundations, and septic systems.

The biggest factor in all this is how well the soil on your property drains. If your yard doesn't have anywhere with good, permeable soil, some of it will need replacing with a mix of compost, topsoil and sand.

Another point about location is its placement on a slope and the drainability of the soil. Slope affects how well a place drains and the direction the water, not to mention how it looks.

2. Size. You will frequently see rain gardens with a surface size about 5 to 10 percent of the impervious surface that is generating the runoff. This is just a guideline, though. Each landscape has its own demands when it comes to size, and we would want to survey your whole property before deciding on your sizing needs.

3. Depth. Most rain gardens need to be about 4 to 8 inches deep in order to deal with the storms we get in Virginia. The depth really depends on the surface area, though. The idea is to get rain water to spread out in a thin layer so that the ground absorbs the water evenly.

What Plants Will Go In The Garden?

Any variety of native and perennial plant that can handle moisture extremes will go in your rain garden. The grasses and flowers will give your lawn a dazzling beauty mark if you pick them right. Some good suggestions made by the National Resources Conservation Service:

  • Columbine
  • Canada goldenrod
  • Bluewestern goldenrod
  • Nodding onion

Will It Require Maintenance?

You have a business to run, so you probably don't want to spend hours taking care of a rain garden. We can do the heavy lifting for you, and they don't really require much work anyway. After the first year, the plants won't need any watering, and the only addition to the garden anyone needs to make is shredded wood mulch to keep out weeds and retain moisture.

If a rain garden sounds like a good addition to your commercial property, contact us. We have a highly-trained staff that will answer any questions about rain gardens and their impacts on water management.

commercial irrigation alexandria va

Water management is more than just the installation of an irrigation system; it is a holistic assessment of your site to determine watering needs and drainage requirements, slope, exposure, plant needs, and soil type. Our certified commercial landscape irrigation designers and auditors can design, install and service an irrigation system that is custom to your site. This system helps reduce plant stress and loss, lower utility costs, boost chemical performance, and improve turf renovation.

Our storm water services include:

  • Culverts and bio-swales
  • Collection facilities
  • Vertical drainage
  • Rain gardens
  • Permeable paving

Commercial properties we serve:

  • Corporate and Commercial
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Hotels & Resorts
  • Housing Communities
  • Retail
  • Parks

Old Town Alexandria is a bustling center of history, entertainment, dining, shopping, waterfront, and even dog and eco-friendly activities. Situated conveniently a mere 7 miles from Washington, DC, it is still far enough away to have created its own unique epicenter of life. As the place that George Washington called 'home' Old Town is positioned between the George Washington Masonic Memorial on the west and by the Potomac River on the east, providing an all access gateway to the best things in life- according to those who know!

What's in a name? Founded in 1749 by Philip Alexander II and his cousin Captain John Alexander, the city was first named Belhaven after the Scottish patriot John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton. There were many changes for the region, including the changing of the name to Alexandria, its inclusion in the District of Columbia in 1791 through ceding, surrender to the British Fleet in the War of 1812, retroceding to Virginia in 1846, military occupation during the American Civil War, and the 1930 annexation to the town of Potomac. These many transitions and acclimations built the foundation for what is now a city that draws both residents and tourists to its cobblestone streets and red brick sidewalks.