What is absorbent landscaping?

    Absorbent landscaping involves a set of practices that allow much greater capture of rainfall through improved infiltration, water holding and filtration, as well as evapotranspiration carried out by plants, such as trees. Importantly, it also reduces the amount of surface runoff during rain storms, which normally leads to erosion, water loss and environmental contamination.

    Because a large percentage of the total rainfall the Town of Lincoln receives in a year comes in heavy rainstorms, it is critical that this water is not only captured and stored for use by plants during dry spells, but also filtered through the soil. Ultimately, absorbent landscaping leads to lush, healthier plants in our recreational areas as well as cleaner watersheds.

    How is absorbent landscaping created?

    Working with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, the Town is investigating the knowledge-base and types of applications of low-impact development (LID). Low-impact development is focused on protecting existing absorbent landscapes, where possible, and creating new ones. It uses soil management technologies and techniques to develop multifunctional assets (e.g. soil restored using organic amendments, tree cells, etc.) that support tree establishment, increase environmental restoration, increase climate change resilience, manage stormwater onsite and mitigate flooding events. 

    In Ashby Drive Park, this will be done through the completion of a soil restoration to assist in creating an absorbent landscape. The absorbent landscape will be de-compacted and amended with organic amendments, which will improve storm water capture.

    What are the benefits and outcomes of creating an absorbent landscape at Ashby Drive Park?

    Typical site development practices are known to degrade soil quality by stripping and stockpiling topsoil for extended periods of time, compacting the sub-soil and re-applying degraded topsoil over the site. This process contributes toward changing the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil such that the soil performs more like an impervious surface than it does a complex functional ecosystem. Accordingly, soil conditions are unable to support the establishment of the diverse vegetation communities that are often a key feature of an absorbent landscape.

    The goal of an absorbent landscape is to treat stormwater as a resource and allow the landscape to capture precipitation for multi-purpose reuse. Soil health is an integral and often overlooked component underlying the proper functioning of absorbent landscapes.

    This project is part of the Town's ongoing commitment to green infrastructure (GI) and low-impact development (LID). Lessons learned from the implementation, performance monitoring, and maintenance of this inaugural absorbent landscape project will be applied to future GI designs and installations.