Haverford Reserve Stormwater Education and Rain Garden Installation Program


Through a Water Resources Education Network (WREN) grant, Haverford Township Parks and Recreation Department received a grant to install a 1,400 square foot rain garden in the largest and most popular park in the Township. Thousands of visitors come to the Haverford Reserve every week to attend games on the fields, play on the playground, use the dog park, walk on the trails, or go to the Community Recreation and Environmental Center.  Two workshops and planting days were held for volunteers, which were overseen by Township staff and our partners. Participants in the workshops learned the basics of rain gardens in a classroom setting and got hands on experience planting the garden at the Haverford Reserve. Planting volunteers were be given native plants and/or discounts at workshops. A 90‘ long naturalized vegetated swale receives storm water and irrigation runoff from the surrounding area and one of two sod athletic fields.  The swale feeds into a 1,200 sq. ft. oval rain garden with a storm drain in the center.  The rain garden was used to address soil sinkage around the storm drain that prevented water from draining for extended periods of time. The rain garden has solved the standing water problem in the swale and is a beautiful addition to the park landscape our well-used park.  This garden is the first example of the Haverford Township’s Environmental Advisory Committee’s Hav-A-Rain Garden initiative goal of installing 100 rain gardens over 10 years. With help from additional grant funding received by Pennsylvania Resources Council and Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative, Township officials and residents, participating in this project, have formed a core group that provide expertise to residential properties to reach the Township-wide goal of using rain gardens to reduce storm water runoff and create beautiful native gardens.

In March of 2014, the Haverford Township Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) made a presentation to the Township Commissioners on the benefits of rain gardens and rain barrels. The EAC presentation highlighted that raingardens are useful in preventing the first half-inch of stormwater runoff from entering local sewers and waterways, therefore allowing water to infiltrate slowly into the groundwater table. The Township currently requires new construction to include storm water detention structure to receive a building permit. A majority of the homes and businesses in the Township were built before this ordinance was enacted; however there are currently no programs or groups in the Township which promote rain gardens and/or rain barrels beyond what individual property owners have chosen to do on their own. Last spring the EAC and resident volunteers installed five rain gardens at selected residents’ homes and have selected five more residential sights for fall installation. The EAC has also started a partnership with Township businesses to sponsor construction and maintenance of larger rain gardens at public or commercial locations.

The project is both a retrofit and a SCM for a new development that was completed in 2010. The Haverford Reserve soccer field on Parkview Road is the newest Township Park.  Because of soil sinkage, a swale along the soccer field does not empty into the storm water drain, which drains into one of four detentions basins. The 1,400 square foot rain garden solves the problem of the drain height and is a new native plant rain garden in the Park.

Half of the grass soccer field (37,200 sq. ft.) plus the area between the rain garden/soccer field and Valley Ridge Rd. in the Condos (18,600 sq. ft.) Total 55,800 sq. ft.

The rain garden is designed to catch the first half inch of runoff from the soccer field and the area below Valley Ridge Rd. The rain garden also catches any excess runoff from the soccer field irrigation.

Volume: 900 gal/ minute using the Rational Method

Aster n-a ‘Purple Dome’, Deschampsia cespitosa, Eryngium yuccifolium, Packera aurea (Senecio), Echnacea purpurea, Carex lutdia, Juncus tenuis, Liatris spicata, Panicum ‘Cape Breeze’,  Physostegia v. ‘Pink Manners’,  Rudbeckia ful. var. fulgida, Tradescantia ohiensis, Vernonia ‘Iron Butterfly’, Aster novae-angliae, Chelone glabra, Lobelia siphilitica, Vernonia noveborecensis, Hamamelis virginiana, Ilex verticillata, Itea virginica, & Morella pensylvanica

Most of the benefits have been described above. The rain garden does solve the storm drain now being 6” above the ground level. Water infiltrates on site instead of entering the drain/detention basin. The garden has attracted a lot of attention since it is highly visible from Parkside Dr. The use of native plants that flower throughout the season will be beneficial to native pollinators. The use of grasses and native shrubs will give structure to the garden for a longer period of time. Inter mixing plant material in the design has given the garden a pleasing appearance.   These WREN Grant gardens workshops taught residents about rain gardens and were the kick off for the EAC’s 100 rain garden goal. This also led to the partnership with Township businesses to sponsor construction and maintenance of larger rain gardens at public or commercial locations.  All of this work will help reduce storm water runoff in the Townships combined storm water sewage system.

During the first year of establishment the rain garden is inspected weekly as well as during storm events. Problems with water flow have been corrected, plants were replaced, we sprayed for pests as needed, weeds were removed, and a pre-emergent herbicide was applied to reduce the amount of weed growth. The edges of the rain garden are trimmed with a string trimmer as needed.  As the rain garden plants mature and fill in less weekly maintenance will be needed. The Haverford Reserve grounds staff will continue to maintain the garden and surrounding areas.


County: Delaware
Watershed: Darby Creek


Haverford Township’s Parks & Recreation Department (HTP&RD)
Delaware County Conservation District
The Delaware County Master Gardeners
Environmental Advisory Committee of Haverford Township
Darby Creek Valley Association


$4,185.00 WREN Grant
$7,138.00 In kind match
$450.00 Township funding
Total cost $11.773.00


Haverford Township’s Parks & Recreation Department
599 Glendale Rd. Haverford, PA 19083

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