Since the inception of the Clean Water Act in 1972, cities have placed a strong emphasis on managing pollutant discharges into our waters. Both gray infrastructures–human-constructed systems related to treatment plants, reservoirs, and sewer systems–and green infrastructures which rely mostly on nature-based solutions, are necessary to solve stormwater issues. However, green infrastructures, such as bioswales, rain gardens, permeable pavements, and even trees, provide many additional benefits such as contributing to the overall improvement of the community. This can be in the form of public greenspace, reforestation, stream enhancements, and new opportunities for recreation.
Green infrastructure provides a valuable service to cities and residents through energy efficiency. For example, trees intercept rainfall and cool the air through transpiration, while permeable pavements are used to slow down and filter rainwater where it falls. Rain gardens are shallow vegetated basins that collect and absorb runoff from impervious surfaces. Similar to rain gardens, bioswales improve water quality as they filter stormwater into the ground.
There are a variety of elements that fit under the green infrastructure umbrella. When appropriately incorporated into a community, green infrastructure can provide social, economic, and environmental benefits.
Maintenance Best Practices
For optimal performance, green infrastructure should be maintained in the fall when the temperature begins to cool down and leaves start to fall from trees. The dormant season provides cooler air temperatures and warmer soil temperatures, allowing for optimal planting, and drier ground for easier navigation. Suggested fall maintenance includes:
- Prevent fallen leaves from accumulating on and adjacent to pervious pavement systems where they can be moved through wind, rainfall, or runoff and decompose and fill permeable voids
- Make sure there is 2 to 3 inches of un-compacted mulch in a rain garden
- Check sediment levels in a rain garden and use a shovel to remove any buildup
- Inspect for bare soil and stabilize soil with plantings
- Replace missing plants in rain gardens or bioswales
- Deadhead perennials. Extra tip: Leave grasses in place to add to stormwater management and extra beautification during the winter.
- Check gutters near green infrastructures for accumulating leaves
- Prune plants, ensuring any clearance issues adjacent to parking lots or sidewalks have been resolved
- Remove weeds and invasive species from bioswales and rain gardens
Our team of experts have experience in maintaining green infrastructures for cities. We are currently teaming up with the cities and agencies to establish and maintain green infrastructure city-wide.