SAND preschool shares space with the North Decatur United Methodist Church. Looking to create an outdoor play yard that also meets the needs of the congregation, they hired us to design and build a flexible, whimsical, and contemplative space that manages water as a design feature and utilizes native and edible species to enhance the experience of all stakeholders. An existing "gulch" is transformed into a reconstructed wetland, while rainwater is harvested for irrigation for the gardens and water play for the children. Edible berries and fruits enhance the natural play features and shade-loving understory plantings support the forest ecology.
When we were hired, the main issue we were looking to resolve was the overabundance of water coming off of the roof and parking lot, rushing down the entrance to the play yard, and taking all the soil with it.
With a congregation of young and old alike, the working with the water in a way that also created easy site access was imperative. We began by building a raingarden high on the slop, and directed that water into the "bog" at the bottom of the site, which we restored into a native wetland meadow.
Phase 1 Construction Complete
Featured images: whimsical spaces for the children are defined by fallen logs and branches; stone-lined dry creekbed directs runoff into upper raingarden, planted with ferns, lobelia, and cypress; elderberry, joe pye, and swamp milkweed fill reconstructed wetland; natural stone entry diverts water to an easily managed raingarden, making slope more accessible; native flood/drought tolerant plants stabilize soil; pervious path directs rain to raingarden; wetland lined with fruit trees, such as pawpaw and mulberry; pervious path allows for level access; natural boulder stairs.