Ocean Friendly Gardens, Water Quality
June 05 2017

Renaissance on the Green in East Hampton, NY

by Mara Dias

The Eastern Long Island Chapter is very excited about the new Ocean Friendly Garden project just installed on the Village Green in East Hampton.  The project is the result of a new partnership between the chapter, East Hampton Village and the Ladies Village Improvement Society (LVIS).

Three bioswales have been designed and installed in the Village Green to help absorb and filter out pollution from road runoff that enters the green at the base of Main Street by the flag pole.  These bioswales have been planted with native plants tolerant of the flooded, wet conditions that often occur at the green, and they are connected by a ‘stream’, or 'ribbon', of plants that follow the natural contour of the green and the subsequent flow of water.  Thanks to Stephen Mahoney of Mahoney Farm & Nursery for the original vision for this project, bringing together all the partners, and sheparding the project through to completion.  Big thanks also to Tony Piazza of Piazza Horticultural for the beautiful garden design and installation.

Partners gather on the green. Eastern Long Island Chapter OFG committee members pose with the East Hampton Village Mayor, members of the LVIS and Town Highway Department staff. photo credit Durell Godfrey

Like many other coastal ponds on the East End of Long Island, water quality at the nearby Hook Pond has been affected by high levels of nitrogen from septic systems, wildlife and stormwater runoff.  These conditions have led to the unfortunate occurrence of toxic algae blooms that wreak havoc on the ecosystem and pose a serious public health risk to pets and humans from recreational exposure. 

The Ocean Friendly Gardens on the Village Green will help receive and treat road runoff, allowing it to soak into the ground and filtering out pollutants, before the water enters the groundwater and Town Pond, and then on to Hook Pond and ultimately the ocean at Main Beach.  Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program takes a watershed approach to solving water pollution problems.  With the current project located at the southern receiving end of Hook Pond’s 2,600 acre watershed, we hope these gardens can help contribute to improving water quality conditions in the Pond and a decrease in the prevalence of algae blooms.  Learn more about current water quality issues in Hook Pond in the Water Quality Improvement Study posted on the East Hampton Village’s website.

The bioswales doing what they were designed to do:  capturing and soaking up water during a recent rain event.

In addition to the water quality benefits from stormwater treatment, we hope the Village Green OFG project will help change people’s perspectives on what a beautiful and healthy lawn should look like.  LVIS has maintained the green spaces of East Hampton Village organically for over 10 years now, and by combining a more natural design that restores the function of our watershed – incorporating native and climate appropriate plants, vegetated buffers, and contouring to allow rain to soak into the ground rather than shedding it towards runoff – can help us all better protect our family’s health and local water quality right at home in our own yards.  As quoted earlier by the local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, Tony Piazza explained… the garden will “set an example to the homeowners that large, green expanses of lawn are not necessarily the best thing for everyone.” Runoff from fertilized residential lawns contributes to water bodies’ ailments, such as harmful algal blooms... "green carpet isn’t always the most beautiful thing.”

Special thanks goes out to the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation and the Walrath Family for their financial support of the EH Village Green Ocean Friendly Garden project. 

To learn more about how we can all take steps to make our own yards more ‘Ocean Friendly’ please click here.

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