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Transy sustainability effort: overview

Cool Things Transy Does to Save the Earth

Transy’s Rain Garden

Transy’s rain garden is one of the first to be installed in the Lexington area and one of 48 registered with the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance.

What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground that captures runoff from impervious surfaces such as driveways, roofs, parking lots, and patios, and allows it to soak into the ground. Rain gardens are typically planted with native plants and work together with the soil to provide important environmental benefits. The garden absorbs and filters pollutants and returns cleaner water through the ground to nearby streams. Rain gardens reduce flooding by sending the water back underground, rather than onto the street. They also provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife.

Rain Garden

Transylvania’s rain garden borders the back of Haupt Humanities building and Haupt Plaza. The 50 by 20 foot planted basin performs both utilitarian and aesthetic functions. Previously, there were storm water issues at the plaza side of the building.  Storm water ran across the impervious surface of the plaza toward the building wall and down into the basement and foundation. As part of the plaza’s renovation in 2006, the area was re-graded and an infiltration basin, designed as a rain garden, was installed.

The rain garden is composed of a shallow basin with several layers of material, including:

  1. A layer of drainage gravel wrapped in filter fabric, surrounding a perforated drain pipe which collects water that has saturated the layers above, and which drains to a local drain line;
  2. Overflow drains that function as outlets for the basin should it overflow, as in a very heavy rain;
  3. A layer of planting medium, approximately 18 inches deep;
  4. A layer of mulch, approximately 4 inches deep; and
  5. Plantings.

The basin functions to slow down the flow of rain water by providing a deep medium through which it must soak before reaching a piped outlet. The amount of runoff is reduced by uptake from the plants, evaporation, and infiltration into the soils beneath.

The plantings are native perennials, including Little Bluestem; Lobelia; Sea Oats; Butterfly Weed; Copper, Yellow, and Blue Flag Iris; and Sensitive Fern. Over time they will fill in the entire basin. Their function is to soak up water and filter any pollutants that enter the basin with the rain water. The rim of the basin is planted with dwarf Sweetspire and bordered at the building side with Oakleaf Hydrangea. Small ornamental trees and additional shrubs are planted beyond the basin. Together, the plants provide a scene of color and texture that adds to the liveliness of the plaza. 

The Haupt Plaza rain garden was designed by Denise Y. O’Meara, RLA, ASLA, senior landscape architect at Ross Tarrant Architects, Inc., and is maintained by Transy’s grounds staff.  

Community Garden

An organic community garden is being developed on campus by a group consisting of faculty, staff, and students. The garden will be integrated into the curriculum by involving students in caring for the plants, as well as reading about and discussing the social, cultural, and physical benefits of community gardening. The garden will provide a source of fresh food for participants, enhance the community spirit on campus, and contribute to the emerging culture of sustainability.

Garden Club

Staff members volunteer their time, energy, and gardening expertise to help the grounds staff beautify campus by planting flowers and watering, trimming, and weeding beds. The Garden Club meets several times a year to make plant recommendations and organizes a “planting party” in the spring and fall. The goal is to move toward perennials wherever possible, both for economy and to reduce the amount of maintenance the plants require.

Rain Garden

Farmer’s Market Walks

Transylvania’s fitness and wellness program offers a group walk to Lexington’s downtown Farmer’s Market—four blocks from campus—once a week during the summer. Participants receive canvas tote bags to carry their purchases (an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable plastic bags). The walk provides exercise, wholesome fresh food, and an opportunity to enjoy the company of other Transy community members.

Farmerís Market Walks