Fishers Rain Gardens benefit the environment

Garden at Geist Christian Church at 126th St. near I-69. (Submitted photo)

Garden at Geist Christian Church at 126th St. near I-69. (Submitted photo)

By Holly Kline

The lush plants along both sides of 126th Street near I-69 in Fishers as well as the trees and plants in the nearby Geist Christian Church parking lot add beauty to the landscape. However, passers-by may not be aware of their important purpose. The plantings were deliberately chosen for use in water quality swales and rain gardens, which increases the quality of water in nearby streams.

Fishers installed water quality swales on both sides of 126th St. where it crosses over I-69.

“These swales incorporate native plants and water quality dams that slow down the water so that it has time to pond and filter pollutants out of the storm water,” said Jason Armour, Stormwater Engineer for Fishers.

Indianapolis firm Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects incorporates water runoff solutions in their designs and Barth Hendrickson, BDMD Principal, further explained the importance of rain gardens.

“The key to the proper function of a rain garden is that you have to engineer a way for water to run to an area where it’s absorbed into the soil,” Hendrickson said.

“For example, water off parking lots is very dirty and filled with debris from cars,” he said. “If that material goes into pipes, it eventually can hurt streams and that is not good for wildlife. Soil absorbs water so it reduces the quantity of water into streams plus you’re increasing the quality of water because it runs through soil and plants.”

Hendrickson noted that one of his firm’s first projects in Fishers was Geist Christian Church at 126th St. and Promise Road.

“The Geist site is a net zero run-off site,” he said. “Their prairie is so big and has so many plants with deep root systems, that the rainwater probably does not make it into the streams.”

Hendrickson went on to explain the concept of green infrastructure, which describes an approach to water runoff that mimics the way nature would process water.

“The green infrastructure approach is more in keeping with a pre-developed state,” he said.

Educational signs are installed within the water swale areas along 126thSt. and Geist Christian Church has provided signs throughout their prairie; both spots provide information about the plants within the rain gardens.