08Oct 2015

Radnor Educational Foundation recently funded the Ithan Elementary Rain Garden in conjunction with the Delaware River Keepers. It is so exciting to see a grant in action.

Want to get involved with this project?Volunteers are needed between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, for any hours available. Contact John Nystedt john@delawareriverkeeper.org by Oct. 10. Pizza will be provided for lunch. Please bring a trowel and shovel if you have one. Many will be provided.


Radnor >> What was once an ugly area where invasive weeds grew behind Ithan Elementary School will soon be three rain gardens where native plants, birds and beneficial insects thrive.

Members of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Ithan Elementary School, the IES Parent Teacher Organization, Radnor Township Education Association and the Radnor Educational Foundation, which supplied a grant, are making this idea a reality.

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, said she had gotten the idea after noticing all the overgrown vines on IES property. Her son, Wim, 9, is a student at IES and has been helping with the project.

“Everything was covered by invasive vines,” she said. “Basically, what was there was bad. I went to Ithan myself and I thought it was sad.”

After the invasive plants were removed with the help of school district personnel and earth moving equipment in 2014, volunteers placed large tarps that had once been swimming pool covers over the slope to allow heat from the sun to kill the remaining weed seeds and roots, said van Rossum. Her husband, David Wood, owns Unique Pool Service that he runs in the summertime and supplied the tarps.

Once the rain gardens are planted and in place, students will be able to see “the relationships between plants and animals,” she said. The new rain gardens will be an ideal area for teachers to explain topics such as ecology and biology to students.

Water from a pipe near the school will be redirected into the rain gardens to seep slowly into the soil, instead of rushing down a hill, she said. The rain gardens will dry out after a rain storm in one to five days, allowing passive irrigation but preventing mosquito larvae from hatching. The higher ground, next to the school building, will be a lush habitat garden in 2016 with native trees and shrubs, perennial plants and grown cover. A lawn path will divide that area from a habitat meadow sown with native flowers. Two lower rain garden basins, one higher and one lower in the habitat meadow. The new rain gardens are also near the school’s bird garden and will be on view from the library and classroom windows.

“This project is a wonderful example of how to transform an area full of invasives into a native landscape that provides improved habitat while cleaning and infiltrating stormwater runoff,” said John Nystedt at the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Joey Pomeroy, 17, an Eagle Scout candidate with Radnor Troop 284, will help lead the planting on Oct. 17 as part of his Eagle Scout project.

“I was always interested in saving the environment, helping the earth and saving resources,” said Pomeroy, a senior at Radnor High School. He plans to major in environmental engineering at college and has already spent about 30 to 35 hours on the IES rain garden project.

Volunteers are needed between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, for any hours available. Contact John Nystedt ajohn@delawareriverkeeper.org by Oct. 10. Pizza will be provided for lunch. Please bring a trowel and shovel if you have one. Many will be provided.