Bioswales – Design and Plant Selection

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 | 0 comments

This post is in response to Rachel’s questions about a bioswale for a winery. The challenges for her project include high acidity and a short period of time with a high input of material into the bioswale. Plant selection is important, but so is calculating how much sediment the bioswale can handle and still function properly. There are many resources that provide simple overviews on wetland systems (bioswales, rain gardens, retention ponds) designed to treat waste water, but few go into design detail or provide thorough plant selection information. Below are a few resources I found that provide that in-depth information.

This Plant List from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency lists plants that are suitable for the  Upper Midwest (zones 4, 5, 6) for  bioswales and rain gardens. Along with plant characteristics, it lists each plant’s tolerances (flooding, salt, nutrient load, siltation, pH), design considerations, and planting techniques. More information on plant selection is provided in this document, including properly locating plants within bioswale zones and environmental influences on plants.

The Stormwater Toolkit offers information on soil preparation, design considerations, maintenance recommendations, costs, limitations, and suggested references for grassed swales.

Understanding the limitations of bioswales is also important.  This research paper on Nutrient Removal from Wastewater by Wetland Systems presents factors that affect the ability of wastewater systems to breakdown various nutrients. These factors include temperature, inflow and outflow rates, oxygen avaiablity, pollutant and nutrient loading rates, and wetland design components, such as what type of soil it is constructed with and if it is vegetated.




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