“Gardens for Life” complete phase two

Students plant VCU’s first rain garden, reduce water pollution

Emily Satchell
Contributing Writer

About 30 students planted VCU’s first rain garden this Saturday in front of Harris Hall — a project that has been in the making since last spring.

VCU has been doing a lot to “go green” and move forward their transition to becoming a more sustainable institute. The Green Unity 4 VCU Team was responsible for organizing this particular project, while the VCU Life Sciences Center for Environmental Sciences sponsors the rain garden.

“There’s a group of people working on this, and we’re all part of the sustainability committee,” graduate student Amanda Schute said. “We just do work in separate departments.”

The garden features a variety of flowering native species of plants including daffodils, day lilies and liriope. Its purpose is to capture runoff from impervious or paved surfaces. The plants in the garden are capable of filtering the runoff and retaining it in the soil, whereas normally this runoff would make its way into a storm drain and eventually lead to the James River and Chesapeake Bay. The rain garden reduces the amount of contaminated runoff getting into these bodies of water.

The garden was part of a two-phase project presented by Schute and fellow Environmental Studies student, William Isenberg, called “Gardens for Life.”

Last spring, the first phase was completed outside of the Trani Life Sciences by building basescapes.

This began as a project for students, but when presented to Facilities Management, it was voluntarily taken over and funded.

“When we brought this project to the biology faculty and to some folks at Facilities Management, they were like ‘We’d love to do this,’ and we offered to find funds for it through SGA and other routes, but they said they were really interested in the project for the sake of the project and wanted to fund it, so they took it over at that point,” Schute said.

Though landscaping took about a semester, the landscapers left some Japanese Maples in the area, since, according to Schute, it didn’t make sense to pull up any trees.

Schute said it was important for students to stay involved, so Facilites Management kept them up-to-date with the progress to plan a date to actually plant.

“They brought trowels and gloves and everything we needed and sort of watched us plant,” Schute said.

According to Schute, there will be other gardening opportunities available to students, including installing plants on the vegetative roof that is set to be put on the roof of the Pollak building.

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