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Landscape Theme

Rain Garden

Resistance To Challenges



Poor Soil

Storm damage

Stormwater Demonstration Garden, Orange County


What was once a barren, severely eroded patch in the middle of a parking lot has been transformed into a beautiful garden full of primarily native plants, butterflies and bees. This lush garden is the Courthouse Garden, located behind the Orange County Courthouse between the Sheriff’s Office and the Farmer’s Market Pavilion. The garden offers passersby the opportunity to slow down for a moment, step across a pedestrian stone path, breathe in the spicy scent of African blue basil, and enjoy a moment of green in the midst of a busy day.

The Courthouse Garden is a Stormwater Demonstration garden, a project of the most recent trainee class of the Orange County Master Gardener Volunteers. The Gardeners tackled environmental challenges including 80% stormwater runoff, severe erosion, highly compacted, poor quality soil that would only support patchy weeds, and heavy foot traffic that damaged plants and compacted soil. The gardeners integrated stormwater management, garden design, and plant selection principles, and rolled up their sleeves to transform this site from barren to beautiful.

The Master Gardeners partnered with Boy Scout Troop #438 to dig out poor soil, and the County to bring in high quality soil and compost to support healthy plant growth. They installed a one-foot gravel edge around the garden to capture runoff from rains and trucks, dug swales, and chose plants that capture stormwater and provide year-round interest. They secured plant and rock donations from the North Carolina Botanical Garden, area businesses, and plant divisions from their own gardens. The new garden has no stormwater runoff.

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