Coles Ferry students build largest rain garden

Xavier Smith • Updated Oct 21, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Coles Ferry Elementary is now home to the largest rain garden constructed by Lebanon Stormwater in conjunction with the Lebanon Special School District.

The school’s fourth and fifth-grade students worked Thursday to insert plants into the garden, which is located on the N. Greenwood Ext. between the school and Walter J. Baird Middle School.

The garden, about 4,300 square feet, is much larger than gardens built at Walter J. Baird, Sam Houston Elementary and Cumberland University. The garden is as deep as 7 feet in some places.

R.T. Baldwin, Lebanon GIS manager, said it took the city two weeks to construct the garden during fall break, which followed two weeks of educating students in the classroom about the usefulness of rain gardens.


Rain gardens help slow down rainwater runoff, decreasing the potential for soil erosion and improving soil quality over time. The latest rain garden will help with runoff from Walter J. Baird, which has a noticeably higher elevation than Coles Ferry.

Baldwin said the “sponge-like” garden would also serve as a filtration system before the water enters the soil underneath. Stone covers the bottom of the garden, followed by a fabric similar to carpet, 2 feet of soil, sand and mulch mixture, topped off with a surface layer of river rock.

The city’s stormwater quality program designates time must be spent on public outreach, and Baldwin said it was a good opportunity to combine the requirement with an educational opportunity for students.

Students designed the garden using an aerial view of the area.


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