Period 3 Environmental Impact Project - AHS Courtyard and Rainwater Harvesting


Notes from Pat Sauer's Visit Wednesday, October 10, 2012
  • need more permeable spaces for water
  • native grasses instead of turf (blue grama, buffalo grass)
  • bioswale 
  • reduce runoff 
  • be careful of water pollution from runoff
  • rain barrels (by downspouts and use the rainwater to water the gardens)
  • perk test to see how compacted the soil is
  • compost on grass instead of fertilizer (to improve soil)
  • permeable pavers around the drains
  • filter around sewer 
  • use taller grasses (breaks up soil, deeper roots=more water can be absorbed in soil)
  • look at cost of different ideas
  • green roofs?? not many spaces though
  • add rain gardens where they are allowed
    • NOT by: foundation, soil with large clay content



To do during 10/9/2012 Double Period:
  1. Preparing for Pat Sauer's visit tomorrow - she organizes the Rainscaping Iowa training.
    • Visit the Rainscaping website
    • Click on the "Practices" tab, and read through all of the practices listed on the left-hand side
      • There are links to fact sheets, etc. on the right-hand side of the screen after clicking on each practice.
    • Which practices could be applied to the AHS courtyard in order to manage the stormwater?
    • Write about several practices that could apply to the AHS Courtyard - diagram where they might be located in the courtyard and explain how they work and why you chose them. 
        2.  Choosing native plants suitable for the AHS Courtyard.
    • Visit the "Recommended Plants" section of Inger Lamb's Prairie Landscapes website
    • Find as many native plants that would work for our AHS Courtyard as you can from the documents on Inger's website
    • Work with other students to add your plant choies to the following list of suitable plants (you must be signed in to your Google account that is part of our classes group
Plants suitable for the AHS Courtyard (include height and bloom month in parentheses following each plant).
  • example plant (3-4',  May - July)
  • dotted d blazing (1-2' dry soils)
  • cream gentian(1-2 mod moist soil)
  • heat leaved alexanders(1-3' mod moist soil)
  • early blue violet(0.5-1' mod dry soil)
  • orange cane flower(2-4' mod dry soil)
  • butterfly milk weed(1-4' late spring)
  • royal caten fly(2-4' mod soil)
  • blue cardinal flower(1-3' fall/december, medium-wet moisture, full sun and part shade)
  • cardinal flower (2-3' moist soil)
  • white snake root (2-3' sun exposure savanah/woodland)
  • Spotted bee balm (1-2' dry soil)
  • prairie phlox (24inches mesic)


Native plants in our greenhouse (reviewed by 1st, 3rd, and 6th periods)(**=suitable for our project, ??=problematic for our project):
  • **Riddel's Goldenrod** = 5 plants
  • ??Prairie Cordgrass?? wet area and tall = 35 plants
  • ??Riverbank Rye?? Native? = 14 plants
  • ??Bottlebrush sedge?? Wet area only = 5 plants
  • **Coreopsis** = 49 plants
  • **Porcupine Grass** = 6 plants
  • ??Large Leaf wild indigo?? Bloom month? = 42 plants
  • **Butterfly Milkweed** = 7 plants
  • ??Evening Primrose?? height = 7 plants
  • **Gray Goldenrod** = 7 plants
  • **Sideoats Grama** = 11 plants
  • ??Smooth Oxeye?? Bloom month? = 14 plants
  • **Sky Blue Aster = 196 plants**
  • **Purple Coneflower = 196 plants**
  • **Rough Blazing Star = 87 plants**
  • ??Compass Plants?? Height? = 4 bunches (1 large, 1 medium, 2 small)
  • ??Canada Lettuce?? = 27 plants
  • **Prairie Dropseed = 35 plants**
  • **New England Aster = 14 plants**
  • **False Boneset** = 56 plants


Notes from reviewing surveys (reviewed by 1st, 3rd, and 6th periods):
  • Use mostly for socializing/hanging out and fresh air. 
  • Rainwater feature= Yes 
  • Fabric shade= Yes
  • Clock tower= Maybe
  • Tables and benches= Yes
  • Drinking fountain= Yes
  • Pond/Marsh= No
  • Frisbee Golf Hole= No
  • Student artwork/more color= Yes
  • Trellis up against wall with vines= Maybe 
  • Brick paver walkways= Maybe
  • Changes additions students would like to see 
    • Doors so you don't get locked outside 
    • Vegetable garden-Compost area if there is a vegetable garden 
    • Window with snacks and beverages 
    • Tether ball
    • More grass areas 
    • Bench swing
    • Foursquare 
    • Speakers
    • Mini concerts for students to sing/play instrument-have outdoor plug
    • Trash cans by each door 
    • Pretty flowers more appealing to the eye.
    • Basketball hoop
    • Swings
    • Alternative energy
    • Needs to be more handicap accesable
    • ball pen(place to hold basketballs)




Ideas for sharing the survey with stakeholders:
  • Email it to all students and staff - make it required or they get dropped from school
  • Give it out during lunchtime and homeroom
  • Bribe them with food
  • Give it out to people in the courtyard
  • Signs in the media center
  • Have them take it in their science classes



Main ideas from WildOnes article that apply to the courtyard:
  • Contact an expert before you plant something
  • Weed management needs to be decided before planting
  • Keep in mind height of plants and placement
  • How much water plants need - native plants need less water
  • Don't plant poisonous plants
  • Think about how you will water the plants
  • Sun exposure of plants - south wall will have shade all day, north wall will have sun most of the day
  • Pick plants based on environmental benefit and not just what is pretty
  • Think about the plants growing season - blooming time
  • How will we monitor the plants after we plant them - management plan for the future
  • What are the needs of the plants (fertilizer, compost, water, etc.)




What are the major things that need to be addressed by the project?
  • Rain Drainage
  • Rain Damage - puddles
  • Informing the Community
  • Landscaping
  • Budget
  • Signs telling people what we are doing
  • How the water is used
  • How we make it sustainable
  • Planting greenery


Questions that the class has about the project:
  • How much will this cost?
  • How many people will we need?
  • Where are the limitations?
  • What are the boundaries for the area?
  • What are the personal goals for stakeholders?
  • How long are we going to be able to work on it?


What do we need to learn in order to make informed decisions about the project?
  • What type of plants need to be put in
  • Species that get along with each other
  • How to drain the water
  • How to pump the water
  • Where are we going to put the barrels
  • Habitat
  • What things would work best in the courtyard
  • What materials do we need
  • Reuse the rainwater over and over again
  • Decorating rainbarrels

Expertise that we need to bring in to help us learn those things along with questions we would ask them:
  • Environmentalists
  • Landscaper
  • Ecologists
  • Professors from ISU
  • Botanists
  • water moving professionals/plumber
  • water conservation people
  • Artist - for decorating rainbarrels




Here are the overall Environmental Impact Project Goals:
  • Deepen knowledge about some aspect of environmental science 
  • Give something back to your community in order to learn about the value of civic responsibility
  • Become more connected to your community
  • Develop project management/leadership skills
  • Develop better written and verbal communication skills
  • Explore personal and career interests

Original Main Courtyard Ideas:
  • Work with professionals to design and make 1 sign
    • Native Plantings - benefits, identification, and/or how to implement such plantings
  • Gather feedback from school administration about goals for the courtyard
  • Gather feedback from students about goals for the courtyard
  • Gather feedback from teachers/staff about goals for the courtyard
  • Work with professionals to design sustainable courtyard
  • Gather feedback from stakeholders about designs for the courtyard
  • Communicate the final design to stakeholders
  • Order plants and other materials necessary
  • Reconstruct the courtyard according to plans

Original Rainwater Harvesting Ideas:
  • Work with professionals to design and make 2 – 3 signs
    • Rainwater Harvesting 
  • Determine locations for and install rain barrels in different locations around the school
  • Parking Lot Swale Improvements
    • Work with professionals to design and make 1 sign
      • Describe historic and current hydrology
      • Explain how native plants can help restore native hydrology
      • Explain the establishment process for native plants
    • Work with a professional to create diagrams for the sign
    • Determine the feasibility of the plan from last year's group to amend the soil
    • Prepare the area for seeding natives/amend soil if possible
    • Seed natives
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