Wightman Rain Garden Wins Keep Michigan Beautiful–Michigan Award

Wightman received a Michigan Award for their Rain Garden beautification project from Keep Michigan Beautiful, Inc. (KMB) at their annual Awards Banquet held October 18th in Lansing at the Crowne Plaza West.

Founded in 1946, Wightman is a Michigan based architecture, engineering, environmental and surveying services company. The firm selected a section of their asphalt parking lot at their Benton Harbor office location at 2303 Pipestone Road, removed parking spaces, and replaced them with a rain garden. The rain garden collects and filters pollutants from stormwater run-off before the water enters the Ox Creek watershed. 

Wightman Landscape Architect Ben Baker shared, “By reducing the quantity of stormwater run-off from the site, the garden offers a substantial positive environmental impact. The 3,750 square foot garden features plants and trees native to Michigan, providing a welcome respite amid an asphalt jungle shared between one office and two manufacturing facilities.”

The Wightman rain garden was designed in 2016 as part of a larger environmental effort to improve the water quality of Ox Creek.  According to the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Ox Creek is the last tributary to enter the Paw Paw River and is one of the most polluted, owing to the manufacturing facilities, shopping mall, large box stores, and farm operations that encompass it. Polluted stormwater run-off, often carrying dangerous chemicals, travels into the creek, leaving erosion in its wake. These factors cause the environment to suffer.

Planted in the fall of 2017, 18 parking lot spaces were removed, and dirt was excavated from the site. New soil and rocks were added to the garden, and a community planting day was held where over 750 plants were installed. The garden will soon mark its two-year anniversary.  Installing the rain garden was truly a community event that included community volunteers, dignitaries, along with Wightman employees performing the planting work. The trees are growing, the native garden plants are thriving and water entering Ox Creek is cleaner.