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Show #28/4502. Controlling - Erosion And Storm Water Runoff

SUMMARY OF SHOW

Rob - Director Of Horticulture At Cleveland Zoo
That is one of the things they struggle with - SOIL COMPACTION. And with soil compaction comes surface runoff. And it is particularly evident in a lot of the elephant areas because it's a new exhibit and things aren't established. Rob had been here for 30 days when he realized he needed to talk with an agronomist. He immediately turned to an old friend and acquaintance named Rod Tyler. Rod went to Ohio State with Rob and Rod had been helpful at Sea World. Rod came out and gave him some ideas about water control and surface runoff. Those ideas are applicable for homeowners as well.

Click here for more info

Introduction To Rod
Eric meets Rod Tyler. ROD is the owner of Grafton Nurseries and tells a little about himself. He graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Agronomy. In looking for ways to use that education he wrote a book in 1996 about using compost. As this nursery has evolved he has focused on modern concerns like controlling water and pollution control. They've done a tremendous amount of research and have been at the forefront of wastewater runoff and erosion control. His first book dealt with using compost. They've started using compost not only for lawn and garden areas but for filtering storm water. That means they address a lot of the pollutants in storm water runoff. Here they have about 70 different stations for testing.

Click here for more info

Compost
Rod mentioned that COMPOSTING is something he's been passionate about his entire professional career. Of course, there's nothing better to grow our plants in than compost. But many people are confused about what compost is, how do they make it or how is it made. Eric and Rod start at the beginning. What is compost? Compost is just a mixture of organic materials. They look at a pile of weeds, grass clippings and twigs, etc. This will turn into compost in about 6 months. What's behind them is a commercial pile that has been delivered from the city and there are about 4,000 of those city composting facilities across the U.S. If you make compost correctly it generates heat which kills weed seeds.

Click here
for more info

Stormwater Applications
When they started using compost in all the common applications they had a lot of engineers asking if they could harness those properties somehow to filter water for STORMWATER APPLICATIONS. The answer was yes. They pushed Rod to come up with mesh products that contain the compost. They then came up with about 100 different types because they needed to make sure they had the right mesh for the right application. Plus some products have longer shelf lives than others, some degrade in the sun, some do not, some are biodegradable, some not.

Click here for more info

Putting Compost Into Socks
Rod talks us through how they get COMPOST INTO THE SOCKS. It's really rather simple. They just made 8,000 socks for 500 gardens in a 1 day program. They start with a simple mesh tube then utilize a sleeve that inserts into the end of the sock, dump the compost in, tap it several times, pull the sock up and put a zip tie on both ends. It's that simple. There is other larger equipment for those more serious but the smaller unit works well. There are different grades of compost that go into the sock. Rod has developed a whole set of specifications based on what engineers might want. If they want something that lets water move through the sock fast, they use a fairly course product, if they want something to damn the water they use a fine product.

Click here for more info

Stormwater Filtering
One of the oldest applications is STORMWATER FILTERING. In this application they have put a sock in a depression in the ground. There is farm runoff next door that has nutrients in the runoff and there is a development right up the slope that potentially has sediment coming from it. As an example, Rod points out an algae bloom nearby. One of the things the sock will do is allow water to pass through and pull out the nutrients in the sediment. For most applications like this people use a silt fence. The silt fence does strain some of the silt out but it's not tremendously effective. A silt fence is meant to capture sediment and really doesn't do anything for nutrients. So that's where the technologies differ.

Click here for more info


Planting Socks
Rod has been working with different methods of INSTALLING PLANTS, using the socks as planters or planter beds. Rod talks us through the process of putting plants in socks. It's simple. Take a knife or scissors and cut a hole in the sock that's big enough to fit the plug you're going to plant. Put your fingers in the hole and then plant the plug into that hole. In a recent planting they used 8 socks creating a 4 by 4 garden and they planted that entire garden in less than 5 minutes.

Click here for more info

Addressing Low Areas Or Bogs
A problem common to many sites is LOW AREAS OR BOGS that collect water. In some residences it may be an area at the end of a downspout that becomes a challenge. Where there is standing water, issues with mosquitos become a problem. How does one reclaim areas like this and get plants to grow? Rod has revitalized one such area. This area is lower than the parking lot and water would drain into this lower area, then flood into the barn. The pollutants from the parking lot and other nutrient issues were creating problems. They utilized socks with a woodland mix and it has now become a rain garden.

Click here for more info

Growing Vegetables
Eric thinks one of the most exciting applications for these socks is GROWING VEGETABLES. Vegetable gardening is one of the most popular types of gardening today and Rod has some beautiful crops. They're challenging the genetics of the plants with this system. And that gives them the ability to cram these plants in tighter spacings than is normally recommended.

Click here for more info


Cultural Issues
Other benefits relate to cultural issues. The SOCKS BREATHE so the soil is not as hot as the outside air. Breathability of the soil is very important. There's a natural cooling that goes on inside the socks, it's evaporative cooling. As we look at the substrate it's going to be 70'ish degrees while the temperature in the hoop house is showing 110 degrees. Heat is a limiting factor for growth in plants, so to be able to remove the intensity of the heat from the root systems allows them to thrive. Of course drip irrigation is a huge plus. Weeds and water are huge challenges in any kind of gardening, particularly where you don't want to use herbicides. The socks do a great job of keeping weed seeds out and drip irrigation being inserted right into the sock allows you to control the water.

Click here for more info

4 by 4 Gardens
The next area the guys visit displays all the different types of 4 BY 4 GARDENS commonly available. 8 socks will fill each space and each of those gardens will then produce around 80 pounds of vegetables if properly cared for. Many people have difficulty with a rototiller, they don't want to purchase one and renting one is problematic as well. So rather than tilling, use socks.

Click here for more info


Pond
Eric and Rod next look at a RAISED POND made with socks. Eric feels many ponds that are installed just don't look natural. It's a hole where someone sets a molded plastic liner, then places some rocks around but in reality doesn't look like anything one would find in nature.

Click here for more info


Line Pathways
Socks can LINE PATHWAYS or walkways, the plants are in a line. It's very simple. The plants will grow, get nice and thick and beautiful. It could also be used as a portable or more temporary landscape for special events. Rod mentions people have used them for golf course events or weddings. The nice part is the socks can be relocated, because they're portable, and later planted in a permanent location.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Filtrexx
Filtrexx International Erosion Control, Stormwater Management and Growing

GardenSoxx

Intercontinental Suites Hotel
http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/cleveland

 

Transcript of Show

Dealing with erosion and storm water runoff are increasingly important issues as they effect our water supply. In this episode we look at some very creative and innovative solutions to these problems.

When we visit a new city we are always looking for great gardens, the kind of gardens that are not only beautiful but educational for both us and our viewers. One of the ways we find these gardens is by interacting with gardeners and horticulturists across the country and asking what gardens they like to visit. These experts then direct us to gardens we should visit. In this episode we have the pleasure of rejoining Rob McCartney. Rob was a guest host in Michigan where he was the Director of Horticulture at Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Rob was great on camera, had done a wonderful job with those gardens and has impeccable credentials. When we learned he had relocated to Cleveland we decided to visit.

Rob tells us about himself. He was born and raised in the Buckeye state. He made his way to Ohio State where he earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Horticulture. He's had a long career in the industry and along the way had some cool jobs. He was fortunate to work at Sea World of Ohio for 10 years. While there he discovered the value of creating a garden theme. People didn't necessarily go to Sea World for the plants, rather the shows. But once there the gardens added tremendously to the ambience. After Sea World he went to Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park which was a very different site. Visitors came there primarily to see the art. But the experience was completed with outstanding landscape. Today Rob is Director of Horticulture at the Cleveland Zoo. In many ways this brings Rob back to his roots. It's similar to Sea World. He's known about it for years and to come back after 10 years of being gone from Ohio is refreshing. He believes what they have here is a treasure but it has to be refined and revealed. And like his other jobs, the main attraction, what brings people in the gates, isn't the gardens, it's the animals. But as good as these animals are, without the surrounding ambience of the trees and shrubs, the lawn and flowers it just wouldn't have the impact. Rob believes landscape really completes the scene, it completes the experience for their guests. Eric feels they've done a great job of capturing that native feeling. They look at the elephants and the new African Elephant Exhibit. It looks like the Sahara. Although it looks beautiful Eric can't imagine the challenges that elephants that weigh thousands of pounds create.

That is one of the things they struggle with - SOIL COMPACTION. And with soil compaction comes surface runoff. And it is particularly evident in a lot of the elephant areas because it's a new exhibit and things aren't established. Rob had been here for 30 days when he realized he needed to talk with an agronomist. He immediately turned to an old friend and acquaintance named Rod Tyler. Rod went to Ohio State with Rob and Rod had been helpful at Sea World. Rod came out and gave him some ideas about water control and surface runoff. Those ideas are applicable for homeowners as well. We look at several areas that have been improved, we can already see a difference.

Since Rob has been here a short time and just beginning the transformation he wants GardenSMART to return after he's had more time to work his magic. Eric agrees to do just that. But Rob thinks that Rod Tyler would be a great person to visit. He can share his knowledge about water management and importantly our audience should find those ideas very useful. Eric thanks Rob for the overview of the Cleveland Zoo and is off the visit Rod Tyler.
Top 

Eric meets Rod Tyler. ROD is the owner of Grafton Nurseries and tells a little about himself. He graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Agronomy. In looking for ways to use that education he wrote a book in 1996 about using compost. As this nursery has evolved he has focused on modern concerns like controlling water and pollution control. They've done a tremendous amount of research and have been at the forefront of wastewater runoff and erosion control. His first book dealt with using compost. They've started using compost not only for lawn and garden areas but for filtering storm water. That means they address a lot of the pollutants in storm water runoff. Here they have about 70 different stations for testing. Grafton Nursery is still a production nursery but has evolved into something much more. They are involved with CSA's, rain gardens and other home garden applications where people can use compost as an everyday growing medium. At GardenSMART we receive many questions about erosion control and Rod's innovative approaches address many of these issues. So Eric is anxious to learn more about what Rod is doing.
Top

Rod mentioned that COMPOSTING is something he's been passionate about his entire professional career. Of course, there's nothing better to grow our plants in than compost. But many people are confused about what compost is, how do they make it or how is it made. Eric and Rod start at the beginning. What is compost? Compost is just a mixture of organic materials. They look at a pile of weeds, grass clippings and twigs, etc. This will turn into compost in about 6 months. What's behind them is a commercial pile that has been delivered from the city and there are about 4,000 of those city composting facilities across the U.S. If you make compost correctly it generates heat which kills weed seeds. Eric asks about the balance between green and brown material. Rod tells us that typically a homeowner wants to devote about 1/3 of their pile to green material, and that includes grass clippings, some homeowners will also use food waste; then 2/3 brown stuff, wood chips, leaves and twigs, things that are older and brown make a nice bulking agent. It's the nitrogen in the green material that helps accelerate the composting process. As mentioned, it can get quite hot, it's important to kill the weed seeds, and that's all part of the normal physiological process of decomposition as it's being converted from leafy material into very rich soil. It's a very normal process, all the organisms that are doing the work and creating heat are what one finds in natural soils, they are always on the ground or in the plant materials we collect. This is a very practical thing to do at home.

Eric wonders what we should look for in a compost bin? The bins should be made of wood, typically they're about 3 by 3, which is a good size. One can use regular pallets but Rod doesn't recommend any treated wood. There are a ton of options out there, at garden centers or other stores.
Top

Compost has long been used in farming and in gardening applications. To apply, for most folks it's just a matter of spreading it out as a top dress or tilling it in. It is intended to increase the organic matter in the soil. But Rod has taken the concept forward by quantum leaps by researching specific ways of using compost. They've opened up a new world of how composting can be used. Rod talks about his research. When they started using compost in all the common applications they had a lot of engineers asking if they could harness those properties somehow to filter water for STORMWATER APPLICATIONS. The answer was yes. They pushed Rod to come up with mesh products that contain the compost. They then came up with about 100 different types because they needed to make sure they had the right mesh for the right application. Plus some products have longer shelf lives than others, some degrade in the sun, some do not, some are biodegradable, some not. Thus they've engineered over 100 different types of garden socks.
Top

Rod talks us through how they get COMPOST INTO THE SOCKS. It's really rather simple. They just made 8,000 socks for 500 gardens in a 1 day program. They start with a simple mesh tube then utilize a sleeve that inserts into the end of the sock, dump the compost in, tap it several times, pull the sock up and put a zip tie on both ends. It's that simple. There is other larger equipment for those more serious but the smaller unit works well. There are different grades of compost that go into the sock. Rod has developed a whole set of specifications based on what engineers might want. If they want something that lets water move through the sock fast, they use a fairly course product, if they want something to damn the water they use a fine product. Rod shows us an example. Here plants are growing in a sock that has mesh big enough to allow the grass pre-seeded inside to grow out. One simply makes the mix, puts it in the sock, the tops grow out, the roots grow down and anchor into the substrate. This can be very effective in reclaiming a challenging site. In a very short period of time the roots emerge through the sock and have latched into the native soil. It's a great way of basically getting plants to grow in places they normally don't want to grow. This is just one application, Rod has many others. Eric and Rod move on to look at more.
Top

One of the oldest applications is STORMWATER FILTERING. In this application they have put a sock in a depression in the ground. There is farm runoff next door that has nutrients in the runoff and there is a development right up the slope that potentially has sediment coming from it. As an example, Rod points out an algae bloom nearby. One of the things the sock will do is allow water to pass through and pull out the nutrients in the sediment. For most applications like this people use a silt fence. The silt fence does strain some of the silt out but it's not tremendously effective. A silt fence is meant to capture sediment and really doesn't do anything for nutrients. So that's where the technologies differ. The future of clean water is going to be something more like a filter, something like what is used for car filters or a pool filter, something that will take out pollutants. One problem with a silt fence is that it is a woven fabric. As soon as the pores get plugged the water has nowhere to go but over the fence. When that happens the fences fail, they flop over and then all the water ends up in the water you were initially trying to protect. With the sock, it's moving through so the nitrogens, phosphates, potassium, whatever filter through. It is especially important to filter agricultural run off or runoff from lawn fertilizers before they make it to a waterway. So, this is a great solution for these kinds of applications. And, if one decides they want vegetation in the sock, it's easily added, making the sock readily blend into the landscape.
Top 

Rod has been working with different methods of INSTALLING PLANTS, using the socks as planters or planter beds. Rod talks us through the process of putting plants in socks. It's simple. Take a knife or scissors and cut a hole in the sock that's big enough to fit the plug you're going to plant. Put your fingers in the hole and then plant the plug into that hole. In a recent planting they used 8 socks creating a 4 by 4 garden and they planted that entire garden in less than 5 minutes. Eric likes the versatility. No matter how big your site you can basically tailor a very mobile garden. It takes a few minutes to install, a few more minutes to plant, it's a wonderful solution for people that may not have an ideal site to install a garden.

One advantage of using a sock is the nutrition is centered right around the crown of the plant. Some plants are difficult to get established but one sock in Rod's yard is sitting on top of gravel. In another area there was a question about whether the roots would penetrate through the sock and go into the soil because the soil was seriously compacted. In this instance the roots have gone into the soil and have firmly attached. It's worked here and it hasn't been irrigated or touched in 3 years.

They're also working on integrating these systems for kids and playgrounds and education as well as for green roofs. Rod has developed an entire kids curricula for anyone that's interested.
Top

A problem common to many sites is LOW AREAS OR BOGS that collect water. In some residences it may be an area at the end of a downspout that becomes a challenge. Where there is standing water, issues with mosquitos become a problem. How does one reclaim areas like this and get plants to grow? Rod has revitalized one such area. This area is lower than the parking lot and water would drain into this lower area, then flood into the barn. The pollutants from the parking lot and other nutrient issues were creating problems. They utilized socks with a woodland mix and it has now become a rain garden. The plants do a wonderful job of removing heavy nitrates and cleaning the water before it goes into the drain. Also the root systems of the plants do a good job of holding the soil. The socks have basically helped the plants establish. Now the area is a giant sponge that has the capacity for great rains and the capacity to keep the plants alive.

For more information on rain gardens click here: Rain Garden Design Templates - What is a rain garden?
Top

Eric thinks one of the most exciting applications for these socks is GROWING VEGETABLES. Vegetable gardening is one of the most popular types of gardening today and Rod has some beautiful crops. They're challenging the genetics of the plants with this system. And that gives them the ability to cram these plants in tighter spacings than is normally recommended. It provides opportunities for transitioning crops, the peas will be done soon, the squash and zucchini will climb up the vines.
Top

Other benefits relate to cultural issues. The SOCKS BREATHE so the soil is not as hot as the outside air. Breathability of the soil is very important. There's a natural cooling that goes on inside the socks, it's evaporative cooling. As we look at the substrate it's going to be 70'ish degrees while the temperature in the hoop house is showing 110 degrees. Heat is a limiting factor for growth in plants, so to be able to remove the intensity of the heat from the root systems allows them to thrive. Of course drip irrigation is a huge plus. Weeds and water are huge challenges in any kind of gardening, particularly where you don't want to use herbicides. The socks do a great job of keeping weed seeds out and drip irrigation being inserted right into the sock allows you to control the water. The mesh doesn't allow weed seeds that blow in to germinate easily thus there are no weeds visible. The evaporative cooling does mean they slightly adjust the irrigation, sometimes in the summer they water 2 or 3 times a day but actually it is very water efficient. These socks could be planted on a patio or in a very, very small area. It's a very versatile system, even if you don't have a greenhouse this could be put down pretty much anywhere. The greenhouse allows them to grow almost year round which is a tremendous advantage. Now that many stores are offering smaller greenhouses, some 8 by 8 or 8 by 10, for several hundred dollars it's very affordable.
Top

The next area the guys visit displays all the different types of 4 BY 4 GARDENS commonly available. 8 socks will fill each space and each of those gardens will then produce around 80 pounds of vegetables if properly cared for. Many people have difficulty with a rototiller, they don't want to purchase one and renting one is problematic as well. So rather than tilling, use socks. The 4 by 4 gardens could even be placed on asphalt, on gravel or on a patio. One here is on top of rocks. Some of these gardens are very ornamental, others more simple, some are examples of rooftop gardens. All offer the opportunity to garden in a variety of environments.
Top

Eric and Rod next look at a RAISED POND made with socks. Eric feels many ponds that are installed just don't look natural. It's a hole where someone sets a molded plastic liner, then places some rocks around but in reality doesn't look like anything one would find in nature. This pond with socks utilizes the top edge to bring the plants right to the edge of the pond and, to Eric, looks like it has been here for awhile. Rod relates that he doesn't own a backhoe and doesn't want to rent one. They wanted a display garden that could be used year round. It also has socks in the pond. They utilized wetland plants like pickerelweed and arrow arum. These plants clean the water. This set up is easy to install. It contains a liner, then a capstone layer that holds the liner in place. Every square inch is utilized and it looks good.
Top

Rod shows us another landscape application. Socks can LINE PATHWAYS or walkways, the plants are in a line. It's very simple. The plants will grow, get nice and thick and beautiful. It could also be used as a portable or more temporary landscape for special events. Rod mentions people have used them for golf course events or weddings. The nice part is the socks can be relocated, because they're portable, and later planted in a permanent location. And when they're done with the socks they cut them open and put the compost back in a flower bed and around their trees. It's certainly been good for their trees they look very healthy. Even though the compost has been used it still has some great organic matter.

Eric realizes that our time is coming to an end and asks if Rod has any parting thoughts. Rod does. Don't give up on spaces that may appear tough for gardening. Look for new products, try new things and keep working at it. You'll find a way to make it work.

Thanks Rod we're learned a lot in this show. We'll never view water runoff the same. We've definitely seen some creative and innovative ways of dealing with water runoff as well as erosion control. And we've learned that one can garden on practically any surface.Top

 

LINKS:

Filtrexx
Filtrexx International Erosion Control, Stormwater Management and Growing

GardenSoxx

Intercontinental Suites Hotel
http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/cleveland

 

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