Fairfax Town Hall will be getting a new garden, full of plants, mulch, and a berm separating it from the creek. This fancy landscaping, though, won't use any water and will cost only $500.
The project is part of a proposal from the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) and Sustainable Fairfax that will utilize the water from the downspouts on town hall to create a rain garden. The rain garden will be both an attractive addition to town hall, as well as an educational example for those hoping to build similar rain gardens.
"It's a really great opportunity for the town to put our money where our mouth is," said council member Pam Hartwell-Herrero.
The rain garden, on the back side of town hall, will pull water from two existing spouts off of the building into a hole/basin in the ground. The soil excavated from that basin will be used to create a berm around the edge. Water will percolate into the soil and in an overflow situation (in a more than three-inch rain) would go back into the existing storm drain. The basin will be filled with mulch to absorb the water and plants around the edges will put down roots into the water.
The plan will not include a storage tank for rain, because of the required setback from the creek and the fact that the location being in a flood zone means there are certain engineering requirements.
According to Jeff Adams, the Water Sustainability Coordinator for SPAWN, the materials for the rain garden will cost just $500, which SPAWN has funding to cover and is seeking local donations as well. SPAWN is running a 10,000 Rain Gardens Project.
Maintenance will include adding wood chips as needed from tree trimmings, an annual inspection of the inflow and outflow, weeding as needed especially in the beginning, and hand watering during the first summer until roots are able to establish themselves. Public Works Director Kathy Wilkie said she consulted with grounds staff about the maintenance required.
"We're all on board and we're very excited," said Wilkie.
The proposal also includes covering part of the ground in the front lawn under the oak tree with a layer of cardboard and woodchips to create turf and cut down on the need for water. That part will cost around $100 to cap off the sprinklers, said Adams, and could save an estimated 20,000 gallons of water.
"I don't imagine you can get more environmental bang for your buck," said council member David Weinsoff.
SPAWN and Sustainable Fairfax will host tours of the garden in November and December once it's completed and workshops to teach people how to create their own rain gardens. There will also be educational signs around the area.
"Rain gardens are simple and they're addictive," said Hartwell-Herrero, hoping it'll become contagious.