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Rain Gardens Take Shape On Long Island

New solutions to water management are becoming ever more prevalent in towns and cities around the world. One such example is rain gardens. A rain garden is defined as a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses.

The purpose of such a depression is to act as green infrastructure and to serve as a source of collection for rainwater runoff. Therefore, a rain garden is typically placed strategically near a runoff source such as a downspout, driveway, or sump pump.

Long Island University Rain Garden

The most recent rain garden constructed in the Long Island region is situated at the edge of a very large parking lot at LIU Post’s Facilities Services building. The parking lot, which slants in the direction towards the rain garden, makes it a perfect location to capture and naturally filter a very large volume of runoff each time it rains.

 berm along the perimeter of a rain garden

All of the runoff from this parking lot at LIU Post will be diverted to the spillway seen in the picture. A berm along the perimeter of the rain garden will also keep the water concentrated within the boundaries of the garden. Image via William Achnitz III

This rain garden is not only the largest on Long Island, encompassing an area of approximately 1,900 square feet, it was also the first of its kind to be installed at a Long Island college or university. This rain garden now provides students and the community at large with an opportunity to learn about the their benefits.

Home to a number of courses that emphasize sustainability, the LIU Post will benefit greatly from this new rain garden development. In addition to providing students with the unique ability to utilize their campus as a living laboratory, it will also provide LIU Post with a distinct competitive advantage over other institutions of higher learning that are active in sustainability research. A rain garden becomes that much more valuable when placed in an academic setting.

The rain garden at LIU Post underwent a long period of planning and preparation and is the result of a collaborative partnership forged between the LIU Post Sustainability Committee and the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District.

After attending a rain garden demonstration at the Cold Spring Harbor Library in 2013, members of the committee knew it was a project that we had to implement at LIU Post, especially considering Long Island’s reliance on aquifers to provide drinking water.

Rusty Schmidt discussing the LIU Post rain garde

Rusty Schmidt discussing the LIU Post rain garden with students, faculty and staff. Members of the LIU Post community planted over 400 plants on April 24, 2015, the day the rain garden was completed. Image via William Achnitz III.

Green Infrastructure and Water

With the assistance of Corey Humphrey from the Nassau County SWCD and rain garden expert Rusty Schmidt, a landscape ecologist from Minnesota who has designed and installed thousands of rain gardens across the Midwest, projects like the one at LIU Post are setting the stage for Long Island to become an area known for its green infrastructure projects.

Rain gardens and other types of green infrastructure will play an integral role in ensuring a clean and safe drinking water supply in the future. The rain garden at LIU Post is the first of what should be many more to come on Long Island, and I am proud that I helped play a role in establishing this incredibly valuable learning tool at my alma mater.

Feature Image: Unlike a regular garden, rain gardens are concave in shape allowing for the extended filtering of rainwater pollutants before it enters the groundwater. Image via Town of Huntington, Long Island.

About The Author

is a graduate from LIU Post with interests in sustainability, genealogy, business, politics, and making a difference in the world.