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Zoo Rain Garden

  • The newly installed rain garden soaks up water from a big storm

  • Rain garden section with carousel behind. Drawing: Cheryl Corson Design, 2014

  • Rain Garden Planting Plan. Drawing: Cheryl Corson Design, 2014

  • Beside the Zoo's Carousel, water flowing off historic Olmsted Walk is diverted into a stablized stone swale inlet.

  • In a big storm, a stone swale outlet allows water, but not sediment, to exit the rain garden.

  • The crew reading the planting plan

  • Gravel layer in the bottom of the rain garden

  • Laying out the plants

  • The curb cut is almost the last step.

  • Curb cut, stabilized stone swale, and guardrail are in

  • Completed berm is a mine-earthern dam for larger storms. Japanese maple was not harmed in the building of this rain garden!

  • William McCall, installer, Level Green Landscaping, Karen Swanson, Zoo construction manager, Patricia Doan, DC Dep't. of the Environment (funding agency), Cheryl Corson, Jennifer Daniels, Zoo landscape architect

  • The newly installed rain garden soaks up water from a big storm

  • Rain garden section with carousel behind. Drawing: Cheryl Corson Design, 2014

  • Rain Garden Planting Plan. Drawing: Cheryl Corson Design, 2014

  • Beside the Zoo's Carousel, water flowing off historic Olmsted Walk is diverted into a stablized stone swale inlet.

  • In a big storm, a stone swale outlet allows water, but not sediment, to exit the rain garden.

  • The crew reading the planting plan

  • Gravel layer in the bottom of the rain garden

  • Laying out the plants

  • The curb cut is almost the last step.

  • Curb cut, stabilized stone swale, and guardrail are in

  • Completed berm is a mine-earthern dam for larger storms. Japanese maple was not harmed in the building of this rain garden!

  • William McCall, installer, Level Green Landscaping, Karen Swanson, Zoo construction manager, Patricia Doan, DC Dep't. of the Environment (funding agency), Cheryl Corson, Jennifer Daniels, Zoo landscape architect

At the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC, the Speedwell Conservation Carousel opened in 2012, is one of the only solar powered carousels in the world. Also at the carousel site is pervious paving, and a demonstration rain garden funded by the District Department of the Environment, and designed by Cheryl Corson. Water runoff from Olmsted Walk is intercepted by the rain garden, improving water quality and reducing the amount of runoff into Rock Creek below.

The rain garden is yet another element in the ‘conservation hub’ at the Carousel which includes carousel animal figures that tell the Zoo’s conservation success stories, pervious paving to capture and filter stormwater runoff, solar arrays on the carousel’s pavilion to offset electrical power and an interactive solar monitoring exhibit kiosk for our visitors.  This relatively small demonstration site enables the Zoo to think big and test ways in which it will be able to develop a comprehensive stormwater management plan for the entire 163 acres that will have far reaching effects on the Rock Creek watershed.


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