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Great Start for GHI’s Supersized Rain Garden

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Appropriately on Earth Day this year, Greenbelt Homes Inc dedicated its largest-ever rain garden, located in 20 Ridge Road. That unlucky court is where large quantities of rainfall were gathering and rushing into nearby Still Creek, causing erosion and harming water quality there. The engineering feat that is a well-constructed rain garden like this one captures, slows down and filters that stormwater. CLICK HERE for more good info about rain gardens on the GHI website.

Rain garden in Greenbelt Homes Inc

Bill Duncan, member of GHI’s Stormwater Management Task Force, spoke to the crowd before ribbon-cutting.  From left are Shobha Duncan, Mayor Pro Tem J Davis, Task Force member Beth Olsen and GHI president Steve Skolnik.

Rain garden in Greenbelt Homes Inc

Local luminaries in attendance included Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan; Council members J Davis, Ed Putens, and Colin Bird; County Councilman Todd Turner; and State Delegate Anne Healey. Not to mention GHI Board members Steve Skolnik and Paul Kapfer. 

Rain garden in Greenbelt Homes Inc

Query – did Steve and GHI general manager Eldon Ralph figure out a way to share the ribbon-cutting? Others who captured the iconic scene on video will have to answer. Shown with them are Tom Sporney on the left (staff liaison) and Mike Clar of Ecosite

Next, Let the Gardening Begin

This is a great start to a big project that could solve a big problem, but the devil is in the maintenance, as it always is with plants. That’s where way too many projects with greats starts eventually disappoint.



In the first years especially until the plants fill out and cover the ground, this garden will need a good deal of weeding, and here’s the tricky part – it has to be done by someone who can distinguish between weeds and plants that are keepers. And it’s especially hard to identify plants when they’re first emerging in the spring.

Rain garden in Greenbelt Homes Inc

But good news – the garden has its very own maintenance guide, and it’ll be followed by the gardeners doing the weeding and other tasks required. I understand those gardeners will be members of the GHI Maintenance Department and the Storm Water Management Task Force. Other volunteers will be recruited, and whether they’ve gardened before or not, I predict they’ll learn a lot about growing plants from helping to make this garden a success.

Rain garden in Greenbelt Homes Inc

I’ll be photographing the garden throughout the seasons and in the years to come. This shot shows its location adjoining the woodlands. That’s why GHI’s Woodlands Committee made sure to remove invasive plants from that area before the rain garden was installed.

Major Thanks 

The garden was funded through the Prince George’s County Storm Water Stewardship Grant Program that’s administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. GHI’s grant application was prepared by its Storm Water Management Task Force, with Claudia Friedetzky taking the lead. (They tell me that “Without her skills and efforts the proposal would not have been completed on time.”) Other current Task Force members include Tom Taylor, Ben Fischler, and Jim Cohen. Former the task force other members who’ve helped are Susan Barnett, Mark Christal, and Cary Coppock.

GHI Staff

Tom Sporney was staff liaison starting in September 2017, so his work was critical to the construction phase and the overall completion of the grant. Technical Services staff (Peter Joseph and David Bowles) served in this function before that.

And Partners

Project partners recognized at the dedication event included Mike Clar of Ecosite (design and engineering), Marita Roos of UrbanBiology (landscaping), Emma Prindle of Low Impact Development Center (outreach and education consultation), and Aaron Marcavitch of Maryland Milestones/Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (sign design).

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

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