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Old 01-21-2020, 01:08 PM   #1
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Default Help with retention basin planting?

I'm not sure if this is the best place for this thread....but it looks like a good spot to me

I have been recruited to help clean up and replant 11 retention basins in the middle of a fairly busy street here in Grand Rapids, MI. The basins were originally planted with non-native trees, shrubs, and forbs. We'd like to clean them up and plant with natives as much as possible. Plants have to be pretty salt tolerant and hardy, as they are going to be exposed to exhaust and such daily. Height limit is 2" from road level. The basins are about 2 ft deep in the center, so that gives us a little more room to work with taller shrubs. Trees have to grow tall enough so that they don't obstruct view of traffic (Callery pear is there now). Each basin is only about the width of a traffic lane.

So....any suggestions on salt tolerant plants that might work in this situation? Most of the islands are in full sun for most of the day.
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:26 AM   #2
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katjh,

That sounds like a daunting task...good for you...I am glad you will be making improvements to the area.

I am sure there are plenty more species that will come to mind, but my first thing to come to mind with "full sun and salt tolerant" is Eastern prickly pear cactus. Is there a dry spot for them--I don't know how well they would do with competition.

Do the deeper areas retain water?

I am thinking that native grasses (sedges and bushes, too) along with native wildflowers for dry and wet meadows (depending on your conditions).

Could elderberry bushes work, or do they get too tall?
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
katjh,

That sounds like a daunting task...good for you...I am glad you will be making improvements to the area.

I am sure there are plenty more species that will come to mind, but my first thing to come to mind with "full sun and salt tolerant" is Eastern prickly pear cactus. Is there a dry spot for them--I don't know how well they would do with competition.

Do the deeper areas retain water?

I am thinking that native grasses (sedges and bushes, too) along with native wildflowers for dry and wet meadows (depending on your conditions).

Could elderberry bushes work, or do they get too tall?
Thanks for your thoughts, Dap. Let's see if I can better describe the areas....
Rain water and snow melt drain off the road into what looks like regular storm drains. Those storm drains have been connected, under the roadway, to the basins in the middle of the road. So, the deeper areas probably stay pretty wet during the early spring when snow is melting. The basins were originally installed and planted in 2012. The soil has settled quite a bit. It's like a ditch in the middle of the road, with the center about 2' below road level. Each basin is only about 6-7' wide, so it's a long, narrow area.

I also thought of prickly pear. It might work near the ends of the basins, where they are not as deep and probably not getting as much of the run-off from the under-road drain.

I think elderberry would be too bushy and too tall for this....as much as I love them!

We do have to get a little more input from the City of GR. Do they want a "garden" look, with lots of flowers? I'd prefer the grass/sedge look, with fewer flowering plants. Easier to maintain and it'll stay green spring-fall.
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:15 PM   #4
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Dapjwy and Skip1909 both suggest Ernst Seed. They have seed mixes for different kinds of places and even had 2 specifically for retention basins! Looks to be mostly Eastern ecotypes, but it sounds like they can be flexible and tailor their mixes to have Midwestern plants.

https://www.ernstseed.com/product/re...ance/?anchor=5

https://www.ernstseed.com/product/re...-mix/?anchor=6
This one notes that the height is '-8'. You can customize their seed mixes, so you can take out the really tall stuff.

https://www.ernstseed.com/product/mi...-mix/?anchor=1
This is one for mostly Midwest plants.
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:27 PM   #5
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katjh A photo of the area speaks a thousand words.
Have you a photo of the beds you are describing?
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:29 AM   #6
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Here are some screen shots, taken from Google Earth. Some of these photos are from 2018 and one is from 2014.
Attached Thumbnails
Help with retention basin planting?-screenshot-2020-01-21-8.25.57-pm.jpg   Help with retention basin planting?-screenshot-2020-01-21-8.17.21-pm.jpg   Help with retention basin planting?-screenshot-2020-01-21-7.56.56-pm.jpg   Help with retention basin planting?-screenshot-2020-01-21-8.21.23-pm.jpg  
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Old 01-24-2020, 06:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
katjh A photo of the area speaks a thousand words.
Have you a photo of the beds you are describing?
I always like pictures, but I really thought I had an accurate picture in my mind based on her description.

I was wrong!

Quote:
Originally Posted by katjh View Post
Here are some screen shots, taken from Google Earth. Some of these photos are from 2018 and one is from 2014.
This is much smaller than i had pictured!

I was imagining it as a much larger, more wild spot between lanes of a highway.

I will have to think on this, but, upon seeing this, I immediately thought of wild petunia, Ruellia humilis.

Also, two grasses that come to mind--I just need to find out their names. Hold that thought...
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Old 01-24-2020, 08:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
I always like pictures, but I really thought I had an accurate picture in my mind based on her description.

I was wrong!



This is much smaller than i had pictured!

I was imagining it as a much larger, more wild spot between lanes of a highway.

I will have to think on this, but, upon seeing this, I immediately thought of wild petunia, Ruellia humilis.

Also, two grasses that come to mind--I just need to find out their names. Hold that thought...
Yes, they are narrow! Some are longer than others, but all are about this wide. I'm going to have to investigate, as the snow melts, to see how much water is retained in the very center of each island.

I hadn't thought of wild petunia! That's a great suggestion
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Old 01-24-2020, 08:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
Dapjwy and Skip1909 both suggest Ernst Seed. They have seed mixes for different kinds of places and even had 2 specifically for retention basins! Looks to be mostly Eastern ecotypes, but it sounds like they can be flexible and tailor their mixes to have Midwestern plants.

https://www.ernstseed.com/product/re...ance/?anchor=5

https://www.ernstseed.com/product/re...-mix/?anchor=6
This one notes that the height is '-8'. You can customize their seed mixes, so you can take out the really tall stuff.

https://www.ernstseed.com/product/mi...-mix/?anchor=1
This is one for mostly Midwest plants.
I don't think we can start from seed. The city is going to want these to look planted and "nice" right away. We will probably use some plugs and some quart/gallon plants.
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Old 01-25-2020, 12:28 PM   #10
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https://link.springer.com/article/10...3iC2PysnZn05b8

I would be a little wary of flowering plants in the median encouraging vehicle impacts with pollinators. My thought is sedges or grasses. Maybe something low and clonal like Rhus aromatica grow low or bearberry.
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