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Landscape Architecture Insights

Bioswales Explained

KW Landscape Architects February 20, 2022

With heavy Spring rain storms in Texas, flooding is a hot topic. One of the best ways to manage stormwater and mitigate flood risk is to incorporate bioswales into landscape design. Bioswales are linear, vegetated ditches that allow for the collection, conveyance, filtration and infiltration of stormwater. They can be used to design more sustainable stormwater systems while incorporating native plants to the landscape.

The benefits of bioswales include:

  • Reduced runoff
    • In a typical road, a 4-meter (13-feet) swale can reduce approximately 25 percent of total rainfall runoff.
  • Reduced pollutants
    • Bioswales remove pollutants by filtering stormwater runoff through natural vegetation and soil-based systems.
  • Recharged groundwater
    • Instead of releasing stormwater into the drainage system, stormwater can be filtered and may provide some groundwater recharge.
  • Improved energy efficiency
    • Natural technologies reduce pressure on existing systems and the maintenance costs associated with centralized stormwater management systems.

Learn more about the benefits of bioswales with ASLA.

We have several great examples of bioswale design:

Cibolo Sports Complex in Cibolo, Texas contains two softball fields, soccer fields and a concession facility w/ restrooms. K&W’s main role was laying out the fields, pedestrian circulation, lighting, irrigation, material selections and coordination with the civil engineer and architect. The parking lot is designed to LID standards. All of the parking islands are bio swales and drainage for the parking lot filters through them.

Amira is a recreation center in Tomball, Texas with a resort-style pool, splash pad, dog park and community playground designed to pump all their irrigation water from detention ponds. Stormwater collects in streets, flows to ponds, then gets pumped back out for irrigation.

Currently in the permitting process, an 11 acre site that is required to keep all stormwater on property. K&W is managing the stormwater with a massive quantity of bioswales and stormwater planters.