Dawn Szelc, LDG Secretary, Clear Blue Landscapes
May’s tour took us first to Derwood, MD to see a beautiful May 2018 installation to control storm water in a neighborhood common area. The area is about 3000 sq ft and connects to Crabbs Branch Stream valley. The design was done by LDG member Darlene Robbins. The Derwood Station #2 HOA had an original design which was completed earlier by another firm and she then reworked. Darlene created a meandering flow with shrubs and rocks at the curves to direct and slow the flow of water as well as promote infiltration. The project was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust – Montgomery County Watershed and Restoration Outreach grant to the Rock Creek Conservancy for $85,000. The installation was completed by J & G Landscaping. Darlene had multiple engineers review her design including Rebecca Stack from Design Green and Chris Sonne.
At the top of the area, the storm water from the neighborhood is funneled from a large pipe into the common area. Darlene created a large “well” in this location filled with rock to first catch the water before it flows towards the stream. She used jute netting along the flow to anchor the plants during large rain events. This will biodegrade over time as the plants become larger and more established. She also used landscape fabric under the rocks to keep the dirt from being washed away. She also used “matrix planting” as defined by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, where she created several modules of multiple plants and then repeated the modules over and over to create a planned but visually random design. In all Darlene used 50 tons of stone and 3000 native plants.
Part of the design is a trial study of underplanting with green mulch. Darlene chose 4 different plants to test over time: Salvia lurata ‘Purple Knockout’ (although she did not request this cultivar it is what was planted), Carex radiata, Juncas tenuis, and Waldsteinia ternate.
The project has received Honorable Mention in the 2019 Best Urban BMP in the Bay Awards (BUBBA) in the habitat creation category.
The next property at 9008 Rosemont Dr in Gaithersburg, was a design by LDG member Toni Bailey. She designed both a green roof and a native planting bed with a cistern to collect rainwater off the roof of the Epworth United Methodist Church. The green roof was created using sedum modules from Live Roof and installed by Gordon Construction. Toni requested that a structural engineer review the weight that would be installed and found that reinforcement was required. This work was funded by a $50,000 grant from the Muddy Branch Alliance. The planting bed along one part of the church wall includes all native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses. The cistern is from Aqua Barrel, a company which has now moved to Georgia. There is a switch to divert the water away from the cistern in winter so that it does not freeze inside the container.
The third property, 214 Tulip Dr in Gaithersburg, was at a private home and funded by the Green Streets grant of the Isaac Walton League. Toni did the site assessment and designed a Master Plan with rain gardens and sustainable landscaping. Only part of the design has been implemented. She did the backyard installation including a rain garden with dry creek bed and native plants such as Baptisia, turtlehead, penstemon, and native creeping phlox.
The final property, at 114 Woodland Dr in Gaithersburg, was a beautiful front yard installation. The owner was very involved in this design plan and is an avid gardener. The planting plan is a mix of native shrubs and perennials, among some existing mature trees. Shrubs included Thuja occidentalis ‘Little Giant’ and Winterberry. There were many Foam flowers and Hay-scented ferns. Other plants included Solidago shuitii ‘Solar Cascade’ Jacobs Ladder, Woodland phlox, Blue wood sedge, Silene carolinia, and wood fern. It was a beautiful and inviting front yard.
Thanks to the designer's for showing us their excellent work and to the homeowners for allowing us to view their properties!
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