Rain Garden being installed on Landis Homes south campus in view of new cottage homes and hybrid homes.
By Rochelle A. Shenk
Special Features Writer, Lancaster Newspapers
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Landis Homes has completed the first phase of an estimated $50 million three-phase expansion project on the south side of the retirement community’s campus. Located near Jake Landis Road, the total project will feature 70 cottages and 75 hybrid homes. Construction on the first phase --23 cottages and 25 hybrid homes --was completed in the fall of 2010.
Linford Good, vice president of planning and marketing, said that not only does the project include a new type of housing for the community, spacious hybrid homes that combine the best features of apartment and cottage living, but it also has a number of “green” features. Some of those “green” features include preserving open space, pervious paving to reduce storm water runoff, geo-thermal heating and cooling, solar attic fans, and use of energy-efficient materials and construction methods such as low-flow water saving plumbing fixtures, lighting with CFL or LED bulbs, white-reflective roofing material on flat roofs, and materials with recycled content.
While most of these features aren’t readily apparent, there are two that are rainwater harvesting and a rain garden, which was installed in November 2010. Rainwater is harvested via barrels attached to downspouts of the cottages and will be re-used for washing cars and watering plans.
“Landis Homes is a faith-based organization, and we focus on being good stewards of our natural resources, which we view as God’s creation. As such, we wanted to reduce the impact of the new construction. We have a stream that runs through our campus that flows into the Conestoga River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. We realize that what we do here can impact the Bay,” Good explains.
RGS Associates Inc., Brownstown, and LandStudies, Lititz, worked together to design and select the plants in the rain garden, which is planted in a low area near a storm water swale. Mark Hackenburg, a registered landscape architect and principal with RGS Associates, noted that rain L gardens not only help control water runoff since water is absorbed by the plants, but they can also improve water quality through water filtration, so both the soil and plant selection are important.
“With a rain garden you’re creating a native plant habitat, so you want to select plants that are indigenous to the area as well as being able to tolerate short periods of heavy water flow,” explained Kelly Gutshall, president of LandStudies.
Plants used in Landis Homes’ rain garden include marsh marigold, which sports yellow flowers in the spring; a number of different types of sedges; iris; aster; cardinal flower; soft rush; and turtlehead, which has a pinkish or pinkish-purple bloom. Gutshall noted that initially a rain garden may require a bit of maintenance to keep out invasive species, however once, it’s mature a rain garden requires little maintenance.
Since the plants are native plants, the rain garden also has a different look when it’s mature than a traditional landscaped area. In addition to the environmental benefits it provides for storm water, the rain garden also provides a habitat for animals.
Both Gutshall and Hackenburg said that with the heightened awareness of water quality and impacts on the Chesapeake Bay, there’s more of an interest in rain gardens in both commercial and residential projects.
Good said that Landis Homes will be adding rain gardens in the second and third phases of the expansion project. Additionally, the organization is seeking LEED certification for the overall expansion project, and adding a rain garden is part of that certification effort.