Ocean Friendly Gardens, Basic Class, HOW
November 15 2012

Green Girls Have Fun With Siuslaw, OR Chapter Rain Garden Workshop

by Gus Gates and Paul Herzog

The workshop was taught by Maria Cahill, Sustainable Site Specialist with Green Girl Land Development Solutions (pictured at right, in front of screen). The site was Sandpines Golf Course, which provided both the location for the indoor class as well as the landscaping to evaluate.

Participants first learned, in class, about what a rain garden is and how they function. (Note: an Ocean Friendly Garden (OFG) is a rain garden-plus - see OFG criteria for details.) Next, they were shown how to site one appropriately by calculating drainage area and local soil infiltration. Lastly, they were taught about using native or climate adapted plants in rain garden.

From a water quality standpoint, capturing and cleansing the first inch of a rainstorm after there's been a dry period - known as the "first flush" - is OFG's main focus. Even small landscapes can absorb the first flush. It's the soil biology - bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, fungi - that help do the cleansing. Maintaining good air and water flow through the garden - what G3/The Green Gardens Group refers to as a creating a "sponge" - is essential to supporting the soil biology. Click here to read more about the soil food web.

Maria next took the group outside to do do an infiltration test (pictured at left). For those who were not able to attend, or did but need a refresher, helpful links with information from the workshop were posted by Surfrider Foundation's Oregon Policy Manager, Gus Gates, in this blog post.

The Chapter OFG Program's next step is to work with Gus to identify a workshop attendee wanting to create an OFG at their home or business, and done through a Garden Assistance Party format. Through this barn-raising-like format, homeowners/renters, government reps and landscape professionals get hands-on experience in both how to create an OFG and how to work as a team to help others.

The workshop was generously sponsored by the Siuslaw Watershed Council and the Siuslaw Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). It's cool to see collaboration with SWCDs, as happened with the Newport, OR and Portland, OR Chapter classes, workshops and workdays.