Stormwater Soils: Which Mix is Right for Your Project?

Stormwater management BMP’s (Best Management Practices) are part of every new construction project. Installation of Bio-retention basins and rain gardens is a common method used for capturing storm water.

The general design of a basin or rain garden can vary.  Some basins incorporate stone drainage layers and filter fabric below the engineered soil filter layer (Bio-retention soil) and some do not.  The Bio-retention soil can also vary quite a lot in the design composition of the component mixture.

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Below are examples of projects we worked on this past year in which every basin utilized a different type of Bio-retention soil, however the end goal was always the same: to capture the water before it can leave a site, filter out contaminants and then infiltrate the water deep into the ground.  The reasons why there are so many different types of Bio-retention soils being utilized today include:

  1. Bio-retention soils are a new technology and the designs are still evolving.
  2. Different site and soil conditions often require different approaches.
  3. Municipalities and managing agencies often have different specifications.

Sound complicated?  Not to worry!  Engineered soils is what we do.  We are the experts, and are here to help you navigate this rapidly evolving world of storm water management.  Call us at 610-268-5555 or email Jake Chalfin, Sales Manager, at jake@lvsoils.com.
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Stormwater – From Waste to Resource

Historically land development projects were designed with the objective of maximizing the built space within both the building footprint and the parking area, with little consideration given to much else. As the built environment has grown over the history of our country we have seen urban flooding events grow in both regularity and destructiveness.

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Now that land planners, engineers and architects have learned the negative repercussions of what too much impervious surface can do during a storm event, much care is being taken to ensure proper ecological storm water management tools are implemented in most new building projects.

Passive storm water capture systems like rain gardens, bio-retention basins, bio-swails and tree pits are all tools that prevent surface run off from leaving a site.  At the same time these features filter and clean the water and infiltrate it back into the natural ground water system.

These biological storm water capturing tools can actually enhance the aesthetics of the landscapes for the buildings and even qualify the builder for LEED Certification Credits.

Stormwater Basin containing custom designed Laurel Valley Soils at Philly’s Central Green at the Navy Yard

Central Green at the Philadelphia Navy Yard

The steady and methodical reinvention and redevelopment of the Philadelphia Naval Yard is at the center of Philadelphia’s burgeoning tech economy.  While the beautiful turn of the century campus provided a great canvas for new buildings and landscapes it also proved to have a host of challenges.

First, the entire landmass is man-made, built from river dredge and mainland soil spoils.   Mix in concern over soil contamination from the years the naval base was in full wartime operations, and the fact that below this less than desirable ground is a high water table containing brackish water, and the challenges of this site would have made many developers take a pass on the project.  But not Liberty Property Trust!  They saw the vision of this site, knew the potential and acted boldly.

In order to ensure a successful and functional landscape for the Central Green public landscape project, Soil Scientist Tim Craul was brought in.  He determined that higher quality functional soils were needed and would have to be imported to the site.  He specified a two-layer soil system containing a course drainage layer located below a finer, slightly more organic surface/planting layer. Together the soil layers work to support plant life, while also maintaining optimum soil moisture and filtering and infiltrating storm water.   Working closely with Tim Craul through a rigorous testing process, we were able to create and manufacture soils that met these criteria.

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Before and After by C. Caramanico and Son at Central Green at the Navy Yard

Our longtime client C. Caramanico and Sons performed the installation.  Over 3,000 yards of Laurel Valley custom soil was spread to create a six acre park-like setting integrated with a state of the art storm water management system.  This area, referred to as a “social space” is used daily by employees of the various Naval Yard businesses.  The landscape is a beautiful sanctuary for people to enjoy, play in, and unwind amongst aesthetically pleasing yet functional bio-swales and rain gardens seemingly hidden right before your eyes. The award winning landscape was designed by James Corner Field Operations, most recognized as being the Project Lead on NYC’s famous High Line, and is a wonderful example of what the future of urban storm water management is all about.

I Won’t Forget To Plant Flowers on Your Grave

Gravener:  n.  A Grave Gardener

 

The award for the most unusually cool application using our Enriched Topsoil goes to The Woodlands for their Grave Gardeners Program.  Yup—I said it—Grave Gardeners!

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Jessica Baumert is the Executive Director of the Woodlands, and the brainchild of this unique program.  The Woodlands, a National Historic Landmark District, is a 54 acre property containing an 18th century garden, 19th century rural cemetery, a mansion, community garden, and acres of open space that backs up to West Philadelphia’s University City.

With the mansion already targeted for restoration fundraising, Baumert wanted the many “cradle graves” that line the Woodlands Cemetery to also feel the love by being restored to their original botanical beauty.  So with excitement and apprehension, Jessica put her dream out there—with an open call for “Grave Gardeners”, and hoping there may be 20 people willing to join her to get this project going.

Imagine her surprise when 80 people, many of whom are city residents with no land of their own available for gardening, applied!  Blogger Modern Day Dirae, who, like many of her fellow “Graveners” have become mildly obsessed with their grave’s resident, posted this on her blog:

It is with great pleasure that I would like to introduce you to Mary Siffert Ruehmann.

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Mary Siffert Ruehmann’s Cradle Grave

A resident of the 29th Ward here in Philadelphia, Mary was born to Frederick Ruehmann and Caroline Ludy on January 27th, 1846 and died on the 12th of May, 1909 at the age of 63. At this point, I do not know if she had any children. It does not seem likely since she died with her father’s name, but I am going to try to do some more research and see what I come up with.  I have not fully decided what I would like to do to pay tribute to Mary. I am going to visit her over the weekend and see what her grave calls for. Since it doesn’t look like there is any writing visible on the headstone part of her cradle grave, I will likely put roses or some sort of vine up there as a large backdrop to what I will do inside the cradle.”

Mary Siffert Ruehmann’s Cradle Grave after planting

To prepare, the Graveners attended 3 seminars covering topics such as the overall cemetery beautification movement in Phila., Victorian plants and their use in cemetery gardening back in the day, and how to prepare garden beds for planting.

The Woodlands, through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, used over 100 cubic yards of Laurel Valley Soils Compost-Enriched Topsoil to fill the cradle graves and ready them for planting. LVS Enriched Topsoil contains Compost, which increases soil’s organic matter to:

  • Help hold water, requiring less irrigation
  • Improve soil structure, allowing air, water and nutrients to move freely
  • Provide macro and micro nutrients to plants
  • Supply beneficial microorganisms
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The Woodlands Cradle Grave with Laurel Valley Soil and plantings

The Woodlands is one of the hundreds of betterment projects that we have done in conjunction with PHS.  Stay tuned as we chronicle more of them here in our blog!

In the meantime, want to learn more about The Woodlands Grave Gardening Program?

Check out the video below to see the beautification process in progress:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmqpQsYQH0w

And follow the Woodlands on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/woodlandsphila

Sports Turf: It’s All About Recovery

Whether you are a Golf Superintendent, Sports Field Manager, or Homeowner with a passion for a beautiful lawn, topdressing with Laurel Valley Soils STA-Certified Premium Compost may well be the solution to getting the turf you dream of.

Cool season grasses, which are typically grown from Delaware northward, benefit tremendously from a dose of compost every fall or spring, often in combination with aerating.  Adding organic matter-rich compost provides a myriad of benefits, as shown in the video below.

 

Have questions?  Call us!  866-LVSoils

DRY Laurel Valley Soils and Compost: Like It Never Even Rained!

May 2016 Was the 10th Rainiest May Since 1900.

But it didn’t stop our customers, because no matter how WET it was yesterday, we will deliver DRY topsoil and compost today!

Laurel Valley Soils 15,000 Cu Yd covered Dirt Shed

Laurel Valley Soils Enriched Topsoil is ALWAYS dry!

With 15,000 cu yd of covered topsoil storage and 30,000 sq ft of production capacity for blending custom engineered soils used for bioretention basins, rain gardens, green roofs and general stormwater management, we definitely have you covered!!!  As soon as you are able to get back out on the job site, we have dry soil and compost ready and waiting to be delivered to your location.  No more dealing with wet product, or delaying work while waiting for it to dry out.

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Our Enriched Topsoil contains our nutrient-rich Premium Compost, which provides the following benefits:

  • Improves soil structure
  • Adds organic nutrients
  • Stabilizes pH
  • Improves disease resistance
  • Supplies beneficial microorganisms, bacteria and fungi
  • Increases soil’s cation exchange capacity, helping the plant to absorb more nutrients from the soil

Want to learn more about ways customers have used Laurel Valley Soils?  Check out our blog post  “Jake and Suzanne Go Site Seeing in Philly

 

 

Tomorrow may be Memorial Day, But TODAY is “National Learn About Composting Day”!

 

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So to help you celebrate, and to provide great Memorial Day Party Conversation Topics, Here are 5 Awesome “CLICKS ABOUT COMPOST”!

  1. How does COMPOST help SOIL?
  2. How does COMPOST give your neighbors LAWN ENVY???
  3. Composting 101—a Five Minute Overview
  4. Healthier Plants, Less Watering, Less Disease??? Tell Me More!!!
  5. I want some compost! Where can I get it???

And we wish you a very happy and safe Memorial Day, too!

Just think–with all your party scraps, it may be the perfect time to start your compost pile!

Jake and Suzanne Go “Site” Seeing in Philly!

“Site” Seeing is not a typo!  Jake and I were attending an event hosted by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council in Philly, and decided to make a day out of it by visiting Laurel Valley Soils “sites” throughout the city!

Compost Cam Suz

 

Our morning meeting wrapped up with a tour of Central Green, the 5 acre park located in the middle of Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.   This oasis contains lifestyle amenities for the 10,000+ person local work force and includes a fitness station, amphitheater, a hammock grove, bocce courts, ping-pong tables, a huge communal table, and a bioretention basin for stormwater management.  As you can see in the photo below, this is not your Daddy’s bio basin!  We are extremely proud to have provided the soil to help create this masterpiece of function and beauty!

Central Green Bio Basin

After the Central Green festivities were done, Jake and I headed out, with compost cam and gps at the ready, to check out our dirt piles all around the city!

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has hundreds of PHS Vacant Land Site projects, and the photos below showcase five of them, after they have been cleared of debris and received our soil delivery.

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Below is a great photo, as it shows the various stages of Vacant Land Site completion.  In the background, you can see where the debris has been cleared, and a pile of soil that has just been delivered. Then you see a lot where the soil has been spread, and in the foreground is a fenced space that was completed in past seasons.

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Next was Rodin Square, where Laurel Valley Soils custom blended the soil for rooflite, and the mix is being used for tree planting on a roof garden, around a to-be-installed pool!  Soil must be blown up to the roof site, as shown in the photo below.

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Our final stop was at the Pennovations site, where Laurel Valley Soils are being used for several bioretention basins as well as for planting trees.

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Want us to grab the compost cam and visit YOUR installation?  Call us!

Until our next site seeing trip…..

 

Want LAWN ENVY??? Apply STA-Certified Compost!!

Do you know how the best looking lawns in the neighborhood get that way?

According to Joe Lamp’l, host of Growing a Greener World, it always begins with a generous topdressing of STA Certified Compost!  It’s the most readily available, economical, and stabilized form of organic matter on the market today.

Joe Lamp’l discusses how to topdress your lawn with compost in the video here:

 

 

Why Choose Laurel Valley Compost?

Like Top Chefs, We Know That Quality Ingredients, Blended Perfectly,

Create MASTERPIECES!

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Compost can be derived from many different types of materials, including yard trimmings, food scraps, leaves, manure, and post-harvest mushroom compost.  In the previous two blogs, we discussed why you should use compost, and why you should use STA Certified Compost.  Here, we are going to explain the benefits of using post-harvest mushroom compost from Laurel Valley Soils.

Many types of compost are made using whatever unused products are available at that time, sort of like when your Mom would make soup from all the leftovers at Thanksgiving.  Creating Laurel Valley Soils Compost is more like baking your Great Grandmother’s famous, award-winning upside-down carrot, macadamia and bourbon cake.  It requires using only the finest ingredients and carefully following the recipe, as there are high expectations on the line!

Because our compost is initially created to grow fresh mushrooms, we follow a strict formula containing only the highest quality, purchased and inspected ingredients including hay, straw, recycled horse bedding, cocoa shells, poultry litter, corn cobs, and gypsum.  After the crop of mushrooms is complete, we take back the post-harvest mushroom compost, let it compost down some more, and then upcycle it as premium compost or repurpose it to create enriched topsoil.

So why should YOU specifically select Laurel Valley Compost? What separates LVS from the crowd?

  • STA Certified: which means it meets the quality and consistency requirements of the US Composting Council
  • PA Certified Organic
  • Stored indoors.
  • Screened and Dry
  • Consistent recipe = consistent reliable performance
  • DNREC and PennDOT Approved
  • Punctual delivery for wholesale clients
  • Widely distributed through garden centers for homeowners

At Laurel Valley Soils, we specialize in providing the exact product you need, including creating custom engineered soil blends.  Whether you are looking for straight compost, compost-enriched topsoil, or blends for bio-retention basins, rain gardens or any other need, we have the skill, expertise and experience to meet all your project requirements.