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Vegetated Swales

Vegetated swale [Click to open page www.uvm.edu/.../toolbox/bmp/vegetatedswales.php in a new window
Vegetated swale

This is practically a free-form design, not unlike a rain garden, which can be fit onto most any landscape or scaled to manage a variety of runoff conditions. Vegetated swales can be designed with minimal impact, and typically do not require extensive excavation.


This form of LID is also designed to improve stormwater quality.  These open, shallow channels with dense vegetation slow runoff, filter it, and promtoe infiltration into the ground; and as a result, runoff volumes are smaller, peak discharge rates are lower, and runoff is cleaner.  In contract, the standard approach of using curbing on streets and parking areas impairs natural drainage systems and quickly conveys polluted runoff to nearby streams, rivers and lakes.



Engineered grassed swales can be a low-cots alternative to curbs, gutters, and storm drains.  The costs for traditional structural conveyance systems ranges from $40-$50 per running foot.  This is two to three times more expensive than an engineered grass swale (Center for Watershed Protection, 1998).  Concerns that open channels are potential nuisance problems, present maintenance problems, or impact pavement stability can be alleviated by proper design.  Periodic removal of sediments and mowing are the most significant maintenance requirements.

This page last updated on 8/13/2007.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission  
376 West Main Street  Suite 130  Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651
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