Watershed Friendly Garden Tour 2012
The 2012 Watershed Friendly Garden Tour featured vegetated roofs, rain barrels, backyard wildlife habitat, composting, native plant species and more. Local residents opened their gardens and shared their experiences landscaping with our water resources in mind.
Participants enjoyed each garden at their own pace, visiting as many or as few as they liked. Gardens were grouped for ease of viewing. No RSVP was required. The event was co-sponsored by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District and the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists.
- Print the Watershed Friendly Tour Site Guide (PDF) for addresses, directions and site descriptions in a single document.
- Each of the site hosts distributed copies of Resources for Watershed Friendly Gardeners.
- View the 2012 Watershed Friendly Garden Tour Map.
A note about this year's site selections: The 2012 Watershed Friendly Garden Tour featured fewer sites closer together than in previous years. This was so that visitors could get to and spend time at more of the sites and to minimize driving time from one site to the next, based on feedback from hosts and visitors. The downside is that, in our large county, many residents do not have sites near them to visit. In future tours, we will focus on other sections of the county. If you own or know of a watershed-friendly garden you would like to nominate for our next tour, please let us know.
Watershed Friendly Garden Tour Site Descriptions
Daniels Run Elementary School: 3705 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax. Special group tour with teacher Lori H. at 1:00! Eleven conservation projects are demonstrated within this school's living classroom. Students and volunteers designed and created watershed friendly features. Included in their projects are a constructed wetland, pollinator garden, forest restoration, and a sponge garden. Other techniques that are on display include an edge garden, riparian buffer plantings, and a streambank stabilization. The rain garden captures rooftop runoff from a portion of the school building and filters it through the soil. Photo credit: Lands and Waters.
Gesher Jewish Day School: 4800 Mattie Moore Ct, Fairfax. This tour stop is truly a model school for anyone looking to incorporate outdoor space into the curriculum. This 'living classroom' includes a vernal pool, butterfly meadow, woodland trail, bluebird boxes (with nesting bluebirds and chickadees) and raised bed gardens that all are a source of discovery for the students. Well-marked trails and seating areas near each of these features allow teachers across disciplines to use the outdoor setting. A wonderful example of how a school teaches watershed conservation education by utilizing their school grounds.
Oakton Trolley Stop: 2923 Gray St, Oakton. Not only is this tour stop a historic one but the homeowner, Adrienne Stefan, has taken great care to get her place certified as backyard wildlife habitat. You can see the original trolley station, a 1905 Victorian with a wrap-around porch, the rail bed, and a few rails still in view. In addition the site offers native plants, limited mowing and a bog garden which soaks up water naturally.
Unity of Fairfax: 2854 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton. There are many conservation activities to see at this demonstration site! Watershed friendly techniques include a vegetative green roof planted with sedums, micro-pools and a riparian buffer strip that lead to a sponge garden/detention pond, a woodland wildlife sanctuary and a retaining rock wall. All of these reduce pollution and increase habitat for wildlife. There is excellent signage identifying and explaining main features, native plants and important educational messages about Rocky Branch (a tributary of Difficult Run). Every community and church member has the opportunity to help with the conservation activities offered at this site. Photo credit: Unity of Fairfax.
Stark Residence: 825 Ridge Drive, McLean. This residence is an example of a successful homeowner rain garden project. It also shows how native plants and rain gardens can be beautifully incorporated into a traditional landscaped look. The homeowner, Gretchen Stark, designed and had the rain garden built with the help of a small team armed with wheelbarrows, picks and shovels. A rain garden blends into the surroundings and helped solve an ongoing drainage issue, profiled in a Conservation Currents article. The garden is also an Audubon at Home certified wildlife sanctuary.
Eagle Residence: 8008 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls. Guided half hour hike to Bull Neck Run at 4:45 (wear sturdy shoes). The Eagles are very passionate about conserving their land in the Potomac Gorge, with a conservation easement on their own property as well as on another recently acquired parcel below their own. The Potomac Gorge is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country, home to over 1,400 plant species and contains over 30 natural vegetation communities, as well as supporting a vast array of animal life. They are involved in the American Chestnut restoration, and recently put bees on their property through SweetVirginia. The Eagles also have an active stream monitoring site on Bull Neck Run, which is parallel to the property. Photo Credit: Northern Virginia Conservation Trust.
Garigan Residence: 7811 Sycamore Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042. Recently featured on the Annandale Blog, the home includes a permeable gravel driveway, 250 gallon cistern, soil amendments with leaf mulch, and over 100 species of native plants. The yard, which previously had drainage issues, is now able to retain and percolate water into the soil. Note: This home is currently on the market and participation on the tour may be contingent on its status.
Residence: 2651 West Street, Falls Church. This property's watershed-friendly centerpiece is a very attractive permeable driveway with a gravel base, strong structural pieces, and fine pebble surface layer, framed with brick along the borders and accented with a short stone wall. The homeowner had it installed with care not to damage mature trees. Previously, water would pool on the driveway and erode the adjacent landscaping. Now each time it rains, water soaks into the driveway and enters the soil below, solving this long-standing erosion and drainage problem and protecting local waterways. The garden also incorporates hedgerow vegetation and is maintained without the use of fertilizer or pesticides.
Christmus Residence: 1303 Cottage Street, SW, Vienna. Several watershed-friendly features such as removing the non-native turf lawn, replacing impervious concrete with permeable pavers, using rain barrels to collect rainwater, using indigenous plants, a wildlife-friendly water feature and gardening without using pesticides demonstrate that homeowners can achieve harmony between their built environment and natural environment and provide people and wildlife benefits at the same time. This garden is a certified Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary, Monarch Waystation Habitat, certified Virginia Habitat at Home, and certified National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Backyard Wildlife Habitat.