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Derry-area Landscaping for Water Quality Workshop

Date: January 10, 2022

Pavement, fertilizer, and sand! Oh my! In November, NHDES, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Extension, landscape designer/educator Lauren Chase-Rowell and the town of Derry teamed up for a two-day Landscaping for Water Quality Workshop to showcase how ecological designs and landscape features can be used to protect water bodies from the potentially detrimental effects of stormwater runoff from areas such as impervious surfaces, managed lawns and turf, and erodible materials. Attendees took what they learned and applied the concepts to make recommendations to meet the needs of Derry’s popular Hood Park and Pond.

A very communicative and interactive group of 30 participants made up of landscapers, landscape designers, advocacy group members, public works staff and other environmentally-minded land managers were submerged and engaged in water-friendly topics both virtually and in-person. Local, state and regional experts presented virtually on watershed management, stormwater runoff, ecological landscape designs, turf management, state and local municipal rules and efforts, soil properties and functions, native plant species and more.

During an hour-long in-person visit to Hood Park and Pond, attendees first engaged in a site awareness exercise designed to awaken and employ all of their senses to assess the park. They were then set free to observe and explore the park, taking notes and making sketches and asking questions, all the while keeping in mind the concepts they were learning and the goals of park and pond managers. The sloping park revealed signs of water, sand, and sediment shedding from the pathways, beach, play areas and grounds into the pond. Workshop partner host Craig Durrett, Derry’s Environmental Planner, imparted that the pond was distressed from goose droppings, excess nutrients, low dissolved oxygen, and more. Town residents spoke out through a recent charrette expressing the desire for nature-based learning, fitness equipment and a splash pad for younger children. Workshop participants worked around adults walking dogs and kids of all ages playing basketball, riding bikes, swinging and climbing in the playground, and hanging around their cars in the parking lot.

The culmination of the workshop was the participants’ presentation of landscaping and management designs to improve the park’s function and the pond’s water quality. They suggested augmenting the pond’s vegetative buffer, capturing road and parking lot runoff with vegetated swales before it can be piped to the pond, adding native understory and conifers to compliment the mature white oaks, installing a viewing platform, replacing an unused area with a pollinator garden, hosting an outreach event to remove invasive plant species, and so many more creative and thoughtful ideas. These designs were captured, considered, consolidated and presented to Derry for consideration as they work to improve the park and pond.

See copies of the workshop presentations and a directory of landscape professionals who have taken various landscaping related trainings hosted through UNH Extension.