Bioretention Planters

Glad to see you again!

It has been a while since our last post but that’s not to say we haven’t been busy!  The last two years have seen a lot of change and development in and around Architerra Designs.  As we looked for different options to explore, we decided our products should not just focus on aesthetics, but more importantly; serve a function.  Stormwater management was our answer!

 
 
Large scale bioretention planter at the Douglas

Large scale bioretention planter at the Douglas

 

Bioretention Planters

There are several different methods to control stormwater.  A popular method in the Seattle area is with bioretention planters.  These are typically concrete basins at ground level that collect some or all of the surface runoff, and filter it through specially mixed ‘bioretention’ soil.  At the bottom, there is a layer of gravel and usually a drain.  The basins can have closed or open bottoms depending on different circumstances and functions.

 
 
A concrete bioretention basin we covered with powder coated metal cladding

A concrete bioretention basin we covered with powder coated metal cladding

 

Other Methods

Other popular methods include rain gardens and rainwater cisterns.  Rain gardens typically have a more natural shape and are less rigid.  These can be lined or unlined and blend in with the landscape better.  However, more space is required to achieve the same stormwater management function as a straight sided bioretention planter. Cisterns are also a method of rainwater harvesting that diverts surface runoff to a collection tank for later use.  These can be simple or complex depending on the size and scope of the project. 

Examples

In a former life as a landscape contractor, I had the privilege of installing and working with many types of stormwater management systems in a diverse set of landscapes.  These ranged from basic boxes to unique and award winning designs throughout Seattle.  Check out the bioretention projects we were involved with below!

 
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Additional examples of projects we installed or maintained with different stormwater techniques:

Greenfire Campus

https://www.walshconstruction.com/our-work/greenfire/

The Douglas

https://www.walshconstruction.com/our-work/seattle-university-douglas-residence-hall/

Belroy Apartments

http://belroyapartments.com/

DMG House

http://www.gchsite.com/portfolio/project/dmg-house-

What’s in Store

After a lot of head scratching, tinkering, and building, we are getting ready to launch our line of bioretention planters in March of this year! Stay tuned for updates. If you would like to get advanced information or talk to us about a custom stormwater project, please contact us or sign up for our newsletter.


Rooftop planters

Spring is here. The sun is out, blossoms are on the trees, and we are all starting to spend a little more time outside. Whether that is working in your garden, entertaining guests, or catching the last bit of daylight while unwinding after a long day at work, chances are you’re outside enjoying the season. Which brings us to the topic of today’s blog post: Utilizing a small outdoor space using functional landscape elements.  

We are working on a project in Seattle’s Laurelhurst area.  The clients’ beautiful, newly built home, had a small yard that didn’t allow for much of a gardening space.  Instead, this area will be used for gathering and entertaining, which is important for them, but why not have both?

With the popularity of urban gardening and farming, what better way to get fresh veggies on your plate than to grow your own on your rooftop garden?  Their garage rooftop was engineered to accommodate the load of two large planters to be used as a garden space. We fabricated two, ten foot by four feet aluminum planters with a false bottom to keep things light weight and safe for the rooftop.

Aluminum planters off to get coated.

Aluminum planters off to get coated.

To make the install safer and easier, they were hoisted onto the roof and set on sleepers and shims. Weighing 400 lbs. a piece, they can accommodate up to 18” depth of planting soil.

We needed the help of a crane to hoist these massive planters on to the rooftop deck.

We needed the help of a crane to hoist these massive planters on to the rooftop deck.

Once they were placed, our sister company, CEM Design, installed irrigation through the bottom of each planter prior to the Cumaru wood deck pedestal paving. The planters were then filled with a light weight soil once again ensuring to keep things safe and as “light-footed” as possible. Once our work was done the client was able to enjoy their space and plant fresh veggies while still enjoying the atmosphere of the city.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Rooftop veggie garden planters with Cumaru pavers.

Rooftop veggie garden planters with Cumaru pavers.

 

With this project came a learning experience that helped us to develop heavy duty leveling feet. The different slopes of a roof, or even the ground for that matter, can create headaches while trying to level large planters. Using the knowledge gained on this project, we began developing ways to incorporate leveling feet that eliminate the need for shims on structure situations, like commercial/ mixed-use building rooftops that require precise weight distribution. We know that no two jobs, surfaces, and spaces are the same, so this feature now comes standard on all of our large custom planters as well as a scaled down version (optional) on all of our catalog planters.

Large street planters with part of the leveling feet attached. 

Large street planters with part of the leveling feet attached. 

We are in the middle of installing large, modular, custom steel planters for a Seattle streetscape that utilize the adjustable feet.  Not only do they help create a more polished and level product, they significantly sped up the installation time and reduced handling.

Installing streetscape planters with adjustable leveling feet.

Installing streetscape planters with adjustable leveling feet.

Bottom line:  the weather is warming up and now is the time to utilize our outdoor spaces whether they are big or small. Rooftop gardening smack dab in the city or cozying up next to a fire table with guests, we all deserve a little place to get some vitamin D and fresh air.  We can help every client achieve their own, special outdoor space that with our site furnishing, landscape elements, and creative solutions.