The Rain Garden is 5,200 square feet and is home to 2,500 native plants from up to 18 different species. It has two terraces that are bounded by large cut lime stones. A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff the opportunity to be absorbed from impervious urban areas like roofs, sidewalks and driveways. Water from the rooftop of the new addition to the Student Recreation Center will be distributed along the garden, reducing the flow rate and allowing for infiltration, where the plants will clean the pollutants to improve water quality from the impervious surfaces. The water will then be filtered back into the water table and not into the sewer system. The garden will be self sustaining and the native plants will be able to survive with no fertilizers or pesticides and little to no maintenance.
The Student Rain Garden is to encourage student involvement on campus. Students can greatly impact the university to make a personal connection to the school and make it a better place for future students. This project is to be considered a pilot project for sustainable landscaping and storm water management plans. The garden will only use native plants and this will promote bio-diversity in the local ecology. The garden is sited in front of the new addition to the Student Recreation Center. This is a high traffic site and will raise awareness of social and environmental issues, while encouraging students to get involved in projects and progressive changes within the University.
Students from multiple disciplines worked together from the initial concept to the final planting to design the first KU campus rain garden. After a few years and an extraordinary effort, six students along with the Emerging Green Builders student organization completely implemented the project:
Laura Foster, Architecture, Ferguson, MO
John Kenny, Civil and Environmental Engineer, Leavenworth, KS
England Porter, Environmental Studies, Independence, KS
Studie Red Corn, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Neil Steiner, Architectural Engineering, Tulsa, OK
Callie Statz, Architectural Engineering, Ballwin, MO
These students began with researching about rain gardens, picking a site, and designing a storm water management plan. They were involved in the complete process including meetings with Construction Management and the engineers, construction drawings, bid sets, plant lists, and more. This project was possible because of the enthusiasm of the students and the university staff eager to implement an innovative storm water management plan on a large scale for the university. The KU Rain Garden was entirely a student effort.