Since the inception of the Clean Water Act, cities have started to look toward green infrastructures, such as bioswales, rain gardens, permeable pavements, and trees as solutions to manage pollutant discharges in their water in addition to their treatment plants, reservoirs, and sewer systems. [Read more about green infrastructure as a solution for stormwater management here] But, creating and maintaining functional green infrastructure can be challenging. There are several key components of functional green infrastructure:
- Engineered soil systems that are designed to be inundated with water, but then to dry quickly
- Plants that hold soil in place, transpire water, facilitate the removal of pollutants, and have well-developed root systems that can maintain infiltration capacity
To thrive in these systems, plants must have the resiliency to withstand wet soils, dry soils, and pollutant loading. But that’s not all: they must also be low maintenance and aesthetically attractive to gain public support. To summarize, they must be super plants!
Here are 10 super plants for stormwater control in the Great Lakes Region:
- Black chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)
- Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)
- Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
- Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
- Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- False sunflower (Heliopsis helioanthoides)
- Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa L)
- Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sullivantii)
Whether replacing plants in an established basin or designing a new one, consideration must be given to available sunlight, hydrologic factors such as ponding or flow velocity, climate zone, and desired size to minimize conflicts with walkways, inlets, or sightlines. Once these factors are determined, you should take these factors into consideration when selecting plants:
- Use drought-tolerant native species that are suited for the local climate zone
- Select plants with three- or four-season aesthetic attributes such as showy flowers or fruit, interesting foliage color or texture, fall leaf color, or winter persistence such as grasses.
- Select species that are valuable for pollinator habitat and food sources for wildlife
Whether you have a bioswale, retention pond, or rain garden, each green infrastructure stormwater management system has unique characteristics. The trained experts at Davey Resource Group, Inc. can help you identify the hardiest plants most compatible with your green stormwater solution.
*Image credit: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
*Image credit: Ansel Oommen, Bugwood.org