We were hired by Grady High School to address major drainage with a light hand, and create multi-functional space for gathering that also infiltrates water. Plantings build an understory of native and perennial songbird habitat, while earthworks and slopes are stabilized with native meadow species. Utilizing edible fruits and berries that are ready to harvest during times of the school year, creates interest for students, while carefully selected species reduce maintenance.
The site of the food forest before the installation was primarily grass in a fenced in enclosure. One challenge in working with school gardens is that during peak dry heat (summer) children are out of school. Much of the summer maintenance can be abated with a perennial-based system, such as the food forest, and the irrigation could be automated from the rain system. We installed 12,000-gallons, which feeds minimal irrigation needed for the food forest, and augments the wider campus' irrigation needs, taking them off of well water, favoring a more sustainable water source.
Click below to go on a site walk to see how we overhauled the drainage and managed the water as a resource onsite.
Featured images: underground retention functions as a gathering space with geo-grid to prevent compaction and deep gravel base for infiltration; recycled rubber mulch in geogrid allows water to sink in with compacting, and students are able to gather on the surface; recycled rubber mulch and geogrid gathering area; liatris and hosta stabilize slopes in dappled light; spaces are defined by hardy evergreen fatsia; native liatris hosts beneficial insects and pollinators; medicinal pineapple sage is a hummingbird nectary; cardinal flower is great for raingardens, and provides hummingbird nectary; native bottlebrush buckeye provides deep shade seasonal interest; native muhly grass stabilizes raingarden; native oakleaf hydrangea provides songbird habitat.