Cherry Hall Entry Beautified

Students and staff install a rain garden

The UMKC Psychology Club members took a bold step this spring – they offered to lay out and install a rain garden on campus. Teaming up with Psi Chi, the International Honor Society of Psychology, and UMKC’s Landscape Services experts, they devised a plan to replenish groundwater, save soil and beautify a little corner of the campus.

Before work could begin, UMKC’s Landscape Services performed a geographical analysis, looking at how rain gardens in specific areas would contribute to water capture. In the right places, improvements would save hundreds of dollars each year and help preserve the campus environment.

To the satisfaction of everyone, the building housing the offices of the Department of Psychology was chosen. The work crews liked the location in the foreground of Cherry Hall – a plain, unbroken and hilly stretch.

They then had to choose a harmonious and healthy arrangement of plants that hold soil and prevent erosion: Ivory Sedge, Honey Locust, Sky Blue Asters, Oak Sedge, Black-Eyed Susans and Missouri Primrose were some of the selections. Where possible, preference was given to native Missouri plants, flowers and grasses.

It was a three-day project that took place over a dry, mild period in the spring of 2014. The first group edged the flower beds and tilled and graded the area where plantings would  go. They added a special rain garden soil mix, and installed weed mat.

The second day coincided with the UMKC Service day, April 18. The students and the Grounds team installed Rip Rap Rock onto the weed mat.

Plant installation day, April 25, dawned bright and warm. The Psychology Club and Psi Chi members and Groundskeepers planted the chosen landscape flowers and bushes, then added fertilizer and mulch. The garden is designed to funnel rainwater onto the surrounding plants and slow or stop erosion.

This project is the first official Adopt-A-Bed installation on the UMKC campus. Similar projects have sprung up nationwide, as cities, schools and parks look for groups to help beautify lands and provide the labor and upkeep. Most often, partners come from civic organizations, churches or schools.

The Landscape Services group will help any interested UMKC club or organization adopt existing beds and upgrade and maintain current campus plantings; the most useful ingredient that volunteers can provide is their labor. Everyone is asked to report problems:  broken limbs, tree branches scraping against buildings, or anything that might be considered unsafe.

The Psychology Club will provide a plaque to identify the garden. Members will continue to maintain the plantings.

Steve Jenks, UMKC landscape supervisor, spoke for the Groundskeepers when he praised the Psychology Club’s work.

“They were a crew with so much enthusiasm,” Jenks said. “They approached us with the idea of beautifying this building by installing the plants and adopting the flower bed. They will continue to maintain the appearance and make sure it retains ‘curb appeal.’ ”

For their part, the psychology students believe that the garden gives their groups some positive notoriety and encourages others to take on similar projects.

On an abstract describing the project, club president Kristen Schoenhoff wrote, “I hope this is part one in a series of additions to brighten the campus.”

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