Sustainability at Culver

Conserve – Reduce – Educate

Culver Woodcraft Rain Garden is Thriving!


The images below illustrate how rain gardens perform valuable services for our watershed.   Culver’s rain garden is located adjacent to a 25,000 square foot parking lot and drains an even larger area of roads and other impervious surfaces.

Earlier today we received a 1/2″ rain over the course of an hour, a good soaking.  In the upper right photo, we see the “first flush” from the rain as water pools in the parking lot and makes its way to the rain garden.   If you look closely, you can see the sheen of oil which is typically associated with the “first flush.” Prior to construction of this rain garden, the water would have just flowed across the turf grass into a storm drain and directly to a creek which flows into Lake Maxinkuckee (near where 750 summer campers swim).

Now however, the storm water flows through the rain garden.  The water is slowed down by river stones and native plants with much of the initial flush being absorbed into the ground through the deep root channels created by the native vegetation.  In the image below the parking lot image, we see the storm water wend its way through the rain garden.

The two larger images illustrate another benefit, or ecosystem service, performed by the rain garden, pollinator habitat.  In the upper image, we see a yellow flower, Zizia Aurea, or golden Alexander (also called meadow parsnip).  This flowering perennial is a member of the carrot family and attracts butterflies to the rain garden.  The lower image shows spiderwort, in full bloom.  This native tolerates shade quite well, which is convenient because of the river birch which shades a good portion of this rain garden.

As Culver prepares to welcome 732 campers to our Woodcraft camp, we are excited to share the many natural wonders of our beautiful campus.


3 thoughts on “Culver Woodcraft Rain Garden is Thriving!

  1. Very cool to see this project come to fruition. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

    Many municipalities now require detention and sometimes retention ponds, but how to address plantings has been an issue. The few we have installed with plantings such as what you’ve shown here have eventually been removed by the property owners in favor of easily maintained turf. The ponds are generally viewed as just ordinance compliance rather than landscape features. Education needs to be added to these programs to transform this perception. Part of the issue is the relegation of detention pond design to Civil Engineers rather than Landscape Architects… efficiency vs. aesthetics… They are not seen as what they could be – a design element that could enhance the landscape.


    • I agree with you about education. Signage is usually an important component, particularly for public or visible rain gardens or other bio engineered features. Would challenge “easily maintained turf” comment vs natives. There is certainly some maintenance for native features, particularly in the first 3 years after installation. Weeding and maybe some replanting. However, once established the native features don’t require mowing, irrigation, fertilizer, mowing, mowing….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done Chris. Looking forward to see this in person sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

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