Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog Login


Federation Blog

Tags >> Rain Garden
Jul 03

Working with a local community

Posted by Sarah in Rain Garden , Pollution , Federation Event

by: Blair Ezra, Summer SRF Intern

On Wednesday, July 2nd, the Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) hosted a volunteer event to help complete projects that promote clean water in the community of Hillsmere, located in Annapolis, Maryland. About two dozen people gathered in the morning to plant the first rain garden of the day. The purpose of a rain garden is to prevent stormwater runoff from polluting the South River and Chesapeake Bay. Stormwater runoff is a serious problem for many watersheds, especially the South River and Chesapeake Bay.  It is caused by rain flowing over water resistant surfaces, that don’t let the water soak into them, like driveways, parking lots, and rooftops. The runoff picks up all the dirt, chemicals, oils, and other pollutants on the ground and carries them into local waterways. Rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff by absorbing the rainwater that contains the pollutants. The pollutants go into the ground and the water feeds the plants instead of running off into local waterways.

 The handful of rain gardens the volunteers planted on Wednesday are in neighborhoods that are considered to be in the “critical area.”  Five active master watershed stewards and two community members organized this project. The stewards want to educate the community about rainwater and the steps they can take to prevent water pollutions. Cleaning the River or Bay starts on land and can even start in your own yard! By using less or no pesticides to picking up after your pets, that bacteria is then carried into the water via stormwater runoff, little steps like these will promote healthier and cleaner waterways.

 The community of Hillsmere is working collectively to become conscious of their actions involving their yards, and how they can come together to clean up their neighborhood and nearby watershed. The stewards carefully chose ten properties in the community that they decided were appropriate to conduct these projects on. The WSA installed cisterns on the houses and planted rain gardens in the appropriate area in their yard to prevent stormwater from flooding the backyard or creating runoff. The homeowners paid a small fee for this process, but most of the cost for the design and construction of this was paid for with grant money from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or the South River Federation (SRF), along with the volunteer time by many people.

 The first year of this project aims at installing rainscaping projects and the second year is targeting people to have bay friendly properties. Many homeowners don’t realize how important this project is and how much they can help, so the WSA will help this community take action to being bay-friendly! This project will educate people about rainwater and how to protect their waterways. Once this project is complete, the WSA plans to open this plan to the county, to help other people promote clean water.

Jan 09

January Go Green Project of the Month: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Posted by Jennifer in Rain Garden

When Glenn and Jane Amsbaugh moved from York, PA back to Jane’s hometown along the South River, there was one thing they knew they wanted to continue: gardening.  Mr. Amsbaugh knew he would have some work ahead of him since the South River does not have the rich fertile soils like York, PA which is in the heart of Amish County.   With a low-lying property along the South River, he had to battle higher salinity levels and poorer soil.

Having composted for over 15 years, the Amsbaughs knew this eco-friendly practice would help to improve the soil quality in the garden.  Every year,  they get nearly five wheel barrels full of compost  to enrich the soil in their garden.  According to Mrs. Amsbaugh, making composting easy is the key to making this a continued practice.  She keeps an attractive, small, stainless steel odor reducing composting pail next to her sink.  When that becomes full, she simply takes it to a larger bucket outside.  When the weather is nice, they take the compost down to the compost pile near the edge of their property. 

Why compost?  Well, why not? Like the Amsbaughs said, there is no sense in wasting left-over food – especially when it benefits the garden so much. If you create a simple routine and make composting easy, you will be more likely to stick with it in the long run. 

Mr. Amsbaugh has gone beyond only composting to improve his garden.  Originally, Mr. Amsbaugh used old dock boards to create a series of raised bed gardens.  When he noticed that his crops seemed to be doing better, he decided to raise the beds even higher to give the vegetables a greater depth of richer soil and to further separate them from the higher salinity soil.  On the beautiful warm January day when I went to interview him, he and a friend were already out laying the boards preparing for spring!   In addition to composting and creating raised beds, Mr. Amsbaugh waters his garden via irrigation piping connected to a large 1,200 gallon cistern that collects rain water from his roof.

Gardening is a wonderful way to connect with nature and get delicious vegetables right from your own back yard.  The Amsbaughs get almost 20 different vegetables  from their garden from April through November and definitely encourage others to considering both gardening and composting.  Mr. Amsbaugh does have advice for others wanting to do the same.  His first words of advice?  Simply, “do it!”  Carefully select the most appropriate site on your property for a garden.  Make sure you have convenient access to water or an easy way to water the garden.  Begin your soil preparation early and start composting today!

Curious to know what the Amsbaughs grow in their garden? They have been able to grow: asparagus, spinach, pumpkin, corn, tomatoes, onion, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, swiss chard, beans, red beets, lettuce, eggplant, herbs, and cantaloupe.

A special thank you to Glenn and Jane Amsbaugh for inviting us to their home and sharing their yard with us! Go green at your home? Tell us about it and you could be the next South River Federation’s “Go Green Project of the Month!”

Jul 29

What Not to Weed: From Drab to Fab

Posted by Jennifer in Rain Garden , Clean Up

From drab to fab, we rescued the Lincoln Drive rain garden with the help of 24 volunteers!  Why is this rain garden so special you may ask?   Installed in the spring of 2007 with help from the South River Federation, the Lincoln Drive rain garden treats runoff from 1.6 acres of impervious surface in the Spa Creek watershed.  With a storage volume of 2,001 cubic feet, this garden can handle 80.5% of a 1.2 inch rain storm and cleans an estimated 60% of each rainfall before it reaches Spa Creek.  This amounts to a little over 2 million gallons of stormwater treated each year!

How is the one on Lincoln Drive different from any other garden?  Rain gardens are bio-retention sites specially designed to handle and treat stormwater.  First, the area is excavated to remove existing soils and pavement.   Once removed, the area is filled with a 50% sand and compost mixture.  Storm drains are cut to fit high water levels.  You want the storm drains to sit above ground level so that the stormwater stays in the garden and does not go directly down the drain.  The stormwater drains only catch the rain during higher water levels.  On the upper slope of the garden, a rock diaphragm lined with filter cloth is placed to dissipate the force of water entering the garden.  A rock-lined swale is also placed between the sidewalk and parking lot to handle water coming from that direction.  Finally, the garden is planted with native plants that help to absorb stormwater.   With all the hard work that went into making this garden, we want to keep up with the maintenance!

For three hours, volunteers braved the hot summer sun and removed invasive plants and vines that had taken over the garden.   The rain garden looked beautiful afterwards – almost unrecognizable thanks to all the great groups involved.  Coordinated by the South River Federation, volunteers from the Spa Creek Conservancy and Watershed Steward Academy guided volunteers as to what plants needed to be removed and what could stay.  This was a great crash course in invasive species identification!  We even had a hard working group from the Family Service Foundation come out to help us clean up all the weeds that were removed.  Thank you to everyone who helped make this day possible!

Enjoy the slideshow!


May 18

Hillsmere Bioretention Complete

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Duvall Creek

This past Saturday, over 40 volunteers helped to plant the Hillsmere Bioretention and Sand Seepage Wetland project at the corner of Great Lake Dr and Phipps Ln in Hillsmere.  It was a gorgeous day to get out and plant project that was several months in the making.  Below are before and after photos of the portion of the project that was converted from a dry "detention" basin to a regenerative stormwater conveyance.


Thanks so much to our volunteers and our funders for the project: the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Unity Gardens, the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy, and the Hillsmere Shores Improvement Association.
May 04

Hillsmere Bioretention Project Underway

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Duvall Creek

Just last week the contractor broke ground for a sizable bioretention and sand seepage wetland project in the Hillsmere community that will help treat runoff before it gets into Lake Hillsmere.  The project is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Unity Gardens, the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy, and the South River Federation.

 One of the first steps in constructing a bioretention project or rain garden is to over-excavate the site in preparation for a well-draining medium of sand, wood chips, and compost.  


 Once the basin has been excavated, it is backfilled with the planting/rain garden mix.  Below, we were able to work within the footprint of an existing dry detention area and convert it into a seepage wetland with relatively little earth moving.

 This project will be planted on May 15th.  If you'd like to help, please contact the Federation office at 410-224-3802 to RSVP.

Jul 09

Beard's Creek Rain Gardens Go In

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Beards Creek

Thanks to the generous support of the Chesapeake Bay Trust and several individuals living on Beard's Creek, the Federation will be installing over 10 rain gardens throughout the Beard's Creek watershed, from Edgewater Beach to Annapolis Landing.  Several more will be going in over the next week or so, but here are 3 recently installed gardens in Edgewater Beach, Shaded Section.

The first garden, below, captures runoff from a community roadway and infiltrates it into the ground.

The second garden has has a downspout diverted into it and will now capture water that had been running down the driveway into the road.

The third garden involved a curb cut, and now captures water that was previously delivered into a pipe system and discharged into the road.


To learn more about rain gardens, visit rainscaping.org.
Jun 03

Harness Creek Rain Garden

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Harness Creek

The same day that some Federation volunteers were planting marsh grasses in London Towne, others were planting a recently installed rain garden designed to capture stormwater above Harness Creek. The project was funded with a generous mini grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and is aimed at protecting tidal wetland habitat around Harness Creek.   The rain garden is approximately 675 sq/ft, and captures the runoff from several large homes near the waterfront.  

Below, Federation volunteers Kevin Green and John Flood plant wetland shrubs and herbaceous vegetation in the rain garden.

Below is a picture of the finished rain garden shortly after a storm.

May 28

Riva Trace Rain Garden

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Flora , Beards Creek

Late last year we finished weeding and planting rain gardens that the Federation and church had installed at Riva Trace Baptist Church on Central Ave (Rt. 214).  This spring we get to reap the rewards.

The area is dominated by very clay soils, which are common throughout Edgewater, and as a result, the gardens as initially installed took some time to drain.  This led to some of the plants that had originally been installed rotting, and weeds, like Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) moving in to the beds.  After a vigorous weeding, Federation volunteers installed plants that can tolerate wetter feet, such as common rush (Juncus effusus), three-square (Scirpus americanus), and blue flag iris (Iris versicolor).  As you can see below, these species, and several other species of rushes which have recruited naturally on the site, appear to be pretty happy.