Rain Garden Management at Aurora University

September 23, 2021

Rain gardens are unique, natural solutions to solve stormwater problems. They provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option to slow water and hold it for up to 48 hours, allowing drainage to occur. Rain gardens also provide the opportunity for pollutants to be filtered out of the water before it reaches nearby streams, groundwater, and other water sources.

Brandon Haley, a Grounds Project Manager with SSC Services for Education, oversaw the renovation of a rain garden at Aurora University in 2019 after SSC took over management of the campus. When our grounds teams evaluated the space, they found that the garden had changed since its installation nearly 10 years prior, and the original plants were not thriving as intended. This was limiting the effectiveness of the garden. Our SSC team worked to find plant species that performed better in the microclimates present in the garden, and as the garden has matured, the plants have continued to grow and thrive.

A successful rain garden requires an in-depth maintenance and management plant that evolves. Our team at Aurora University takes several steps to ensure that the garden continues to prosper.

  • Integrated Pest Management: Our SSC team has an IPM program in place, which sets the threshold for insects and diseases. Weekly inspections occur to scout for pests, problems and to take any remedial actions when this threshold is exceeded. With detailed scouting records, the management program is improved every year.
  • Irrigation: Because this rain garden is designed to slow water and hold it for up to 48 hours, it also is prone to drought and has little water holding capacity. The rain garden is equipped with a 2-3-inch layer of triple ground hardwood mulch to limit the need for hand watering. This layer is constantly monitored, depth-checked annually, and logged into a GIS system for long-term record keeping.
  • Deadheading & Weeding: The rain gardens at Aurora University are full of beautiful native plants and flowering perennials. The team deadheads the flowers weekly to encourage new blooms and keep the area looking green. You’ll also spot our team hand pulling weeds during inspections and removing leaf litter to be composted. Keeping the rain garden free from debris helps to keep the original drainage qualities of the soil.

SSC’s award-winning Grounds Management team at Aurora University has a proven management program that has stood the test of time. Placing this unique garden space next to one of the original buildings on campus has brought a modern look to a classic structure. The management practices put in place by SSC’s team ensure that this space will be filtering the water coming off the building for years to come.

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