Posted by: greeningvacapitol | February 8, 2013

#Stormwater Runoff 101 #video http://ow.

#Stormwater Runoff 101 #video

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | February 1, 2013

Greening the Capitol Brochures Available

Would you like to help get the word out about the Greening the Capitol project?  Brochures are now available for distribution.  Just contact the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay office at 804-775-0951 or

Greening the Capitol Brochure

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | June 22, 2012

Conserve Water – Good for the James River and your water bill!

On Capitol Square, a rainwater harvesting system with an 8,000 gallon underground cistern will provide recharge water to an existing fountain as well as irrigation for an existing shrub bed surrounding the fountain. The cistern collects stormwater runoff from surrounding brick walks. It also receives excess stormwater that enters the underdrain system from two of the Bell Tower rain gardens. An underground spring which was once piped to the storm drain also enters these rain gardens which feed into the cistern.

On a smaller scale, you can install a rain barrel at your house to capture runoff from the roof.  There are many benefits to using rain barrels at home:

  • FREE water! A rain barrel can save about 1,300 gallons of water during summer months.
  • Store chemical-free water for use during dry periods.  You can use this water to water your lawn and garden, wash your car, wash your window, and bathe your pet.
  • It’s good for the environment! Rain barrels reduce water pollution by decreasing stormwater runoff.  Groundwater recharge is also increased because the collected rainwater is used in areas that allow it to soak slowly into the ground.

So where can you get a rain barrel? Most garden centers sell rain barrels.  You can also participate in a local rain barrel workshop.  The James River Association has some upcoming workshops in our area.

And when you get a rain barrel, check out the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Rain Barrel Publication for installation and maintenance tips.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | January 25, 2012

Rain Gardens at Capitol Square

We’ve planted native species in the rain gardens at Capitol Square. Check out the pictures:

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I can’t wait to the gardens in the spring when all is in bloom!

Here’s a rendering showing the location of the rain gardens. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

Rain Gardens Rendering

For more general information on rain gardens, check out this post. And for a list of plants that we used in our rain garden, check out this post. 

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | October 14, 2011

Rain Gardens & Bus Loop Green Street Plant Lists

Are you curious what plants we’re using to green the Capitol Grounds? Check out the lists below for the plants used in the Bell Tower Rain Gardens (which are close to completion) and the Bus Loop Green Street.

Bell Tower Rain Gardens

Chionanthus virginicus ‘Grancy Graybeard’ Fringetree
Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ (‘Nana’, ‘Compacta’) Dwarf Winterberry
Cornus alba ‘Regnzam’ (Red Gnome) Red Twig Dogwood
Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ Shamrock Inkberry
Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’ Virginia Sweetspire
Hibiscus moscheutos (H. palustris) Rose Mallow
Onoclea sensibilis Sensitive Fern
Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern
Athyrium filix-femina Lady Fern
Onoclea sensibilis Sensitive Fern
Juncas inflexus ‘Blue Arrows’ Hard Rush
Carex flaccosperma Thinfruit Sedge
Carex pensylvanica Pennsylvania sedge
Juncus effusus Common Rush, Soft Rush

Bus Loop (Capitol Street) Green Street Bioretention Planters

Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ (‘Nana’, ‘Compacta’) Dwarf Winterberry
Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’ Summersweet Clethra
Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ Shamrock Inkberry
Juncas inflexus ‘Blue Arrows’ Hard Rush
Juncus effusus Common Rush, Soft Rush
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ Red Switch Grass
Carex buchananii Leatherleaf Sedge

Plant species native to Virginia and the Piedmont region were utilized for this project. Why native plants? There are many benefits.

Natives are adapted to our regional physiographic conditions and climate, therefore, they are able to thrive with minimal attention. Exotic, non-native plants generally require more attention and maintenance, and can sometimes become invasive in the landscape.

The use of native plants on a site also contributes to biodiversity and important ecosystem functions, such as providing wildlife habitat. Many serve as hosts to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Having evolved in our area, these plants respond well to native soil conditions. They can also help to build and improve the soil through their growth. In rain gardens, native plants that are adapted to wet or dry conditions, work to process excess nutrients and pollutants contained in stormwater runoff.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | August 1, 2011

Bus Loop Green Street Complete

The first “green street” on Richmond’s Capitol Square is complete! Let’s take a look…

First off, here’s the “before picture”.  This is at the sidewalk on Capitol Street, a.k.a. the Bus Loop.

Now, check out the drawing below (click on it to view a larger version).   You can see that the sidewalk was extended and rain garden planters were installed to capture and filter stormwater.  There’s also what this drawing refers to as an “infiltration gallery” underneath the rain garden planters. To better understand the various underground components that were installed to help filter the runoff, let’s take a look at the whole process.

First, the sidewalk and street were demolished to make room for digging a few deep trenches.

These trenches were then filled with modular tanks and drainage stone.

Modular tanks before installation

Photo Credit: VA DGS

Then the concrete planters are installed and the brick walkway is filled in around the planters.

Photo Credit: VA DGS

Photo Credit: VA DGS

Then native plants are added to the rain garden planters (see planting scheme in first drawing for species types).

Photo Credit: VA DGS

So the planters will capture stormwater runoff, which will be filtered into the modular tanks.  Then the filtered water will be released back into the soil.  The tanks can hold about 33,000 gallons of water.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | April 15, 2011

One “Step” Closer to Greening the Capitol.

The pervious terraced steps are now complete!  Check out this slideshow for before, progress, and after pictures of the terraced steps and pervious walkway.

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Posted by: greeningvacapitol | April 7, 2011

City of Richmond Stormwater Utility and Credits

If you live in the City of Richmond, you are probably aware that a Stormwater Utility was established in 2009.  This annual fee is based on the amount of impervious surface that you have on your property.  These funds are used to help implement a stormwater management plan, as required by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Did you know that you can get a reduction in your fee while also helping the City of Richmond with reducing polluted runoff?  The city now offers “stormwater credits” to both residential and non-residental properties that implement “Green practices”.  Examples of green practices are rain gardens, rain barrels, and pervious pavers.

So check out this website for more detailed information on what to do to receive a credit:

This video by WRIR news also has some great information.

We’d love to hear from you if you decide to implement some practices to apply for the credits.

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | March 17, 2011

Rain Gardens: Reducing Runoff at Home

As we are hard at work installing rain gardens on Capitol Square, we wanted to share with you some tips for installing a rain garden at your home (or business).  Rain gardens are an effective and relatively low cost solution to reducing stormwater runoff.  Basically, it’s a low-lying area with water-tolerant plants that allows rain water to soak into the ground.  You can place your rain garden near your downspout (but at least 10 ft from the house) to catch roof runoff.

Here’s some more tips:

– Home rain gardens are typically 100 to 300 square feet, depending on drainage area, slope, and soil type.  You can check out “Rain Gardens: A How-To Manual for Homeowners” for guidelines on calculating rain garden size.  Keep on mind that these are guidelines to capture 100% of the runoff for an average rainfall, you can always put in a smaller rain garden if needed.

– The depth of a rain garden is between 4 and 8 inches.

– If you have clay soil (sticky and clumpy), then you may need to amend your soil with sand or compost to allow the water to soak in better.

– Check out this Native Plants for Rain Gardens publication to choose plants for your rain garden.  You can also find Rain Garden Templates (such as the one shown below) for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed region at the Low Impact Development Center site.

Rain Garden Design Template from

What about you? Have you had any experience installing a rain garden on your property? Are you planning on one in the future? We’d love to hear from you, so leave your comments below!

Posted by: greeningvacapitol | February 22, 2011

February Update — Preparing for Rain Gardens!

Check it out.  The pervious brick steps are a few steps closer to completion.

The contractors have also begun preparing for the rain gardens.


I know it doesn’t look very pretty right now but imagine this:

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