by Jeremy Person, PLA, ASLA, with co-authors Ann English, PLA, ASLA, Ted Shriro, Andy Szatko, John Watson, and Jim Cooper, ASLA
In January of 2020, The Field published an article on Performance-Based Plant Selection for Bioretention that sought an approach for planting design that prioritizes the functional attributes that plants provide in bioretention stormwater treatment facilities. In 2021, the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange (the Exchange) awarded a Collaborative Grant to a multi-disciplinary team from Chicago, Maryland, Omaha, and Oregon to explore these questions further and complete a first phase towards building a Bioretention Plant Selection Tool (BPST). The effort was focused specifically on functions plants provide in bioretention and the vegetative attributes to optimize overall bioretention performance. Biohabitats, a multidisciplinary consulting firm specializing in ecological restoration, conservation planning, and regenerative design, was hired to survey stormwater professionals, complete a review of research on plant functions in bioretention installations, and develop an outline of how stormwater practitioners could evolve planting design to improve facility performance.