What’s happening in WestCo?

Over the past year, the student group WILD Wes and the student forum Sustainable Landscape Design lobbied the University to grant them a piece of land that they could re-design.  We were eventually given the WestCo Courtyard, and so this summer several students are preparing the site to be planted next year. Right now, the site faces several major problems – compaction, erosion, and lack of top soil. We hope to address these issues through the following process –

1. Swale Construction – Also known as a berm n’ basin, a swale is a line of depressed earth bordered by raised earth that runs along the contour of a slope. This water-harvesting ditch helps to slow the rapid runoff of water, allowing it time to soak into the soil. Swales are currently being dug across the entire courtyard using a pick ax and a shovel.


2. Sheet Mulching – This is a technique that naturally builds soil health by strategically layering organic material on top of the existing earth. Mimicking the natural leaf litter found in forests, the process begins by adding a layer of compost on top of the grass. The second layer is of cardboard and newspaper recycled from Weshop, which will act as biodegradable weed barriers. The final layer is a mulch finish, which will be primarily chips taken from the trees that have been cut down.

3. Cover Cropping – A cover crop will be seeded on top of the sheet mulch to help keep the earth in place prior to planting, as well as contribute to soil fertility. This crop, which will most likely be a nitrogen-fixing clover, will eventually be folded back into the earth. It is not a part of the final landscape design, but rather a temporary soil builder.


2 thoughts on “What’s happening in WestCo?

  1. Hello,

    This is a really interesting blog. Thanks for sharing.

    I just wanted to let you know that the Science Gallery in Dublin is looking for projects for an exhibition about the Future of Water in october. I thought it might be interesting to see students studying sustainable landscape design come up with new thinking in ways of using less water..

    I am sending you the information about the call for proposals in case someone is interestied in submitting a project:

    Science Gallery is seeking proposals for a major upcoming exhibition, and series of workshops and events on the theme FUTURE OF WATER, that will run from October 20th 2011 to January 20th 2012.
    Water is both destructive and life-giving, venerated and fought over, and one billion people lack access to it in its most valuable form – as clean drinking water. What will the future of water hold?

    Science Gallery is inviting proposals from artists, designers, engineers, scientists and everyone in between, from any country, in any and all media. We are looking for inventions, installations, and artworks that can happen in or out of Science Gallery; for events, performances, and unique experiences; and for digital proposals that can be web-based or a mobile phone application.

    The closing date for submissions is Friday July 15th 2011. For more information, visit http://www.sciencegallery.com/futureofwater



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