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What’s A Bioswale, And How Should You Landscape It?Stormwater. Managing the flow of stormwater, no matter how slow or swift, is never easy. Low spots in your commercial landscape can collect water from parking lot runoff, causing puddles that don’t dissipate easily. Ditches can not only be difficult to maintain, but they can also collect standing water that flows off nearby hardscape surfaces.

But there are some tools commercial property managers have at their disposal to help alleviate stormwater flow challenges.

What Is A Bioswale?

One of these stormwater management tools is called a bioswale. A bioswale is a conventional ditch or swale, modified and planted with appropriate native plants. These plants help increase water percolation and pollutant removal as stormwater flows through them. Bioswales can be aesthetically pleasing additions to an Atlanta commercial property—much nicer to look at than that an old ditch or large puddle—and they’re also sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The biggest trick to having a properly working and aesthetically pleasing bioswale is to fill it with the right selection of plants that can adequately do their jobs filtering stormwater.

Bioswales Aid In Stormwater Management

Stormwater naturally flows off of impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, pathways and driveways. As it flows, the stormwater brings with it anything that is in its path, including any pollutants or debris. Bioswales planted along these types of surfaces help collect the stormwater, slowing and absorbing it, and ultimately filtering it of pollutants before it moves on to streams and waterways.

A Low Impact Development Center study found that properly designed and constructed bioswales are able to achieve excellent removal of heavy metals, total suspended solids and oil/grease. In this sense, bioswales do an amazing job!

Finding The Right Bioswale Plants

Similar to a rain garden, bioswale plants come in a wide range of low-maintenance options that can survive extreme conditions, including being wet or dry for extended periods of time.

Typically, plants in a bioswale are hardy, strong-rooted perennials and ornamental grasses that are native to the Atlanta region. They are low-maintenance plants, meaning they don’t need mowed or tended to on a regular basis. The largest maintenance task on a bioswale is ensuring proper and adequate drainage is taking place so we know the bioswale is doing its job.

A bioswale planting could include densely planted grasses, with flowering perennials for color and variety, as well as shrubs and trees for height and structure. By installing bioswale plants in well-planned layers, we can increase foliage density, which helps with stormwater filtration.

Need Help Beautifying Your Bioswale? We Can Help!

Do you have areas on your Atlanta commercial property that collect water? If you’re interested in a beautiful and sustainable alternative near your parking lot to help properly drain and filter stormwater runoff, HighGrove Partners can help!

Our commercial landscape professionals can help you find the perfect site, select the right plants and maintain your property’s bioswale — even as part of a larger commercial landscape master plan.

Give us a call at 678-298-0550 or use our simple contact form. And if you want more great commercial landscape tips, be sure to subscribe to the HighGrove blog.

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Last modified: August 14, 2014