Your Chance to be a Part of Gardening History – Hamilton County Extension is the National Leader in CIP’s. By Dave Dyke
Perhaps your first question is … what in the heck is a CIP? The short answer is that it a contour infiltration planting, a term coined by Dave Dyke in conjunction with his work with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) to describe a landscape planting constructed on the contour to capture and infiltrate storm water. Many are familiar with contour plantings used in traditional agriculture for millennia. However, there are significant differences between most agricultural contour plantings and CIP’s: Contour planting allows agricultural producers to grow row crops with minimal soil erosion on slopes, with storm water capture and infiltration as a secondary benefit/goal; while CIP’s provides a method for landscapers to easily capture and infiltrate water on a slope to minimize storm water runoff and beautify the landscape.
Unfortunately, there is little or no information on urban contour plantings for storm water management except for some related to capturing water for landscape plantings in arid regions of the U. S. Southwest. Therefore, OSU Extension Hamilton County has formed a collaborative with several other entities, including: Project Evergreen [http://www.projectevergreen.com/], whose mission is “to preserve and enhance green space in our communities for today and future generations”; Horticulture Magazine; the MSD; the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District; the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); the Delhi Township Park District (DTPD); and Tim Young, Landscape Designer, Delhi Flower and Garden Center Landscaping, to establish a demonstration CIP project in Delhi Township Park, Hamilton County. Tim has volunteered to design the garden plantings. Project Evergreen will pay for the plant materials and supplies. The DTPD will till the gardens and provide other services. Hamilton County Master Gardener Volunteers and DTPD employees and volunteers will plant and maintain the gardens.
Three primary goals have been established for the CIP’s:
1) They will be part of a comprehensive storm water management strategy for that location, directing storm water around – rather than through – a picnic area and then infiltrate as much of it as possible into gardens instead of into the storm sewer system. As such, the water will become an asset – providing moisture to sustain gardens that will beautify the landscape and provide food and cover for wildlife – instead of a liability to be treated at taxpayers’ expense. Therefore, the construction of the CIP’s will be followed by the construction rain gardens, which will receive water that is at least partially directed to them by the CIP’s.
2) They will provide photographs and other information necessary to produce training materials, such as PowerPoint presentations and manuals, on the design and installation of CIP’s.
3) They will provide useful data on the construction and efficacy of CIP’s, especially on installation and maintenance costs. It is hoped that some hydrological data can also be obtained.
On May 11 the NRCS worked with Extension and the DTPD to lay out the base contour lines for 3 CIP gardens with a laser transit. The contour lines are designed to give the gardens a 2% slope, which will allow a substantial amount of water to be infiltrated into the gardens and uphill slope while limiting water ponding and directing the uninfiltrated water to intended locations. The slope of the garden on the left side of the picnic area has been designed to direct the water to the left around the area while the other 2 have been designed to direct the water to the right. Horticulture magazine sent a photographer and its artistic director to photograph that endeavor. The DTPD subsequently applied glyphosate to kill the turf within the boundaries of the new garden areas.
The gardens will be planted on May 22 in conjunction with the celebration of Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer Week, May 17 – 23 (May 26 has been set as a rain date if the weather does not permit planting on May 22). All Hamilton County Master Gardener Volunteers are invited to participate in this and the plantings at the adjoining Delhi Floral Paradise Gardens on the 22nd. (See the article by Julie Crook for additional information on volunteering for Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer Week activities.) Join us in becoming a part of horticultural history, while learning first hand how to install a contour infiltration planting! Put the 22nd on your calendar today!
There will be a feature article on this project in Horticulture Magazine this fall, which will document all phases of the establishment of the gardens. Additional information on CIP’s may also be found in “Guidelines for Utilizing Rain Gardens as a Storm Water Management Tool in the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati”, which will be available online at http://hamilton.osu.edu/ in the near future.