The concept of green infrastructure promises many wonderful benefits; cleaner water, increased infiltration, and added habitat for native plants and animals. However, maintaining an environment where plants can thrive can be challenging. Picking the right plants for green infrastructure requires a thorough understanding of the site’s ecology and long-term stewardship. To make this step easier, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) partnered with ECT to create a plant selection tool for green infrastructure tailored to their region.
MMSD is a strong supporter of green infrastructure. They have partnered with public and private property owners to install a wide variety of green infrastructure throughout 28 municipalities. MMSD has incorporated green infrastructure as a key component in their 2035 vision towards creating a healthier Milwaukee region. views. The goals outlined in this vision include zero basement backups and overflows and capturing the first half inch of rainfall on impervious surfaces in the service area. This is the equivalent to approximately 740 million gallons of stormwater.
The plant selection tool created by ECT is an interactive excel spreadsheet that users can download from MMSD’s website. The tool allows users to select the style of planting they desire, either naturalized or ornamental, and then select options from a series of conditions that narrow down a master plant list.
After each option has been selected, a plant list is produced containing trees, shrubs, and herbaceous grasses and perennials that are appropriate for that site’s unique ecology. If users are not familiar with the site’s specific conditions, they can select default settings for each practice. Practices include rain gardens, bioretention areas, extensive green roofs and intensive green roofs. The default settings will pre-load conditions common for that practice, such as dry soils for extensive green roofs.