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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589


1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Jump into spring with your very own urban bioswale

March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

Urban gardens are wonderful locations for small bioswales.

Bioswales are sunken depressions that collect, treat, and drain stormwater.  During rainy months, water fills the bottom of a bioswale and slowly drains out, filtering silt and pollutants out of the water.

Bioswales help keep stormwater out of our sewer system – saving both taxpayer dollars and the environment!

In today’s Oregonian, Portland landscape designer, Megan Galaher, shares her seven fool-proof plants to include in your urban bioswale:

  1. Spirea x bumalda – lovely pink flowers that bloom mid-summer
  2. Vaccinium ovatum – an evergreen huckleberry that tolerates all climates
  3. Juncus patens – blue, long, grass-like rush
  4. Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ – leafy yellow and green Japanese rush that is maintenance free! Put around the outer perimeter of your swale. 
  5. Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ - also known as black mondo grass, this dark rush is also maintenance free and will add unique color variety to your swale
  6. Polystichum munitum – rich green Sword fern
  7. Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi” – dogwood that turns brilliant read during winter months

To see an example of an urban bioswale firsthand, visit the Portland Garden Club Show at the World Forestry Center, going on May 17 - 18. 

Seven sure-fire bioswale plants: Ask the expert

Megan Galaher in The Oregonian, March 20, 2014