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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 22, 2009

From: Decatur, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Rain Gardens
Title: Installation of a bioswale in Decatur IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to install a bioswale in a 15' wide, 50' long ditch on a relatively steep hill. The ditch already has rip rap in it. Do I need to remove all the rip rap before starting construction, or can I use it to my advantage? Can I make the rip rap less wide, then plant a wide strip of native grasses and wildflowers on either side?

ANSWER:

You may have come to the wrong place with this question. Construction is way out of our line of expertise. We do native plants, not rip rap. In fact, we don't even know what rip rap is. A new kind of music?

What we can do is give you some references to previous answers on bioswale construction, which, in turn, have links to websites where they do understand construction, and probably even know what rip rap is. Now, when you get to the point of selecting native grasses and plants to put in that bioswale, please let us know, and we'll do our best to give you a good list of grasses and wildflowers native to Illinois that can function well in that environment. You'll find them somewhat repetitive, as Mr. Smarty Plants is not above using previously published answers for reference. You know, why invent the wheel more than once? One link, on bioswale construction, was no longer active in the first and third answers, but we found another and replaced it.

For North Carolina, May 14, 2009

For Indianapolis, March 7, 2009

For Baltimore, August 31, 2008

And, because we really hate to admit that Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't know everything, we went looking for definitions of rip rap. This first one is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Riprap — also known as rip rap (especially in Texas), rubble, shot rock or rock armour — is rock or other material used to armor shorelines, streambeds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour, water or ice erosion."

From Storm Water Authority.org Riprap

We find we often learn more from the questions we are asked than the customer probably learns from our answer. And, you have to understand; with only about a teacup of rain for the year in Austin, we don't have a whole lot of call for drainage solutions. Nothing to drain. 

 

 

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