In an effort to inform and educate the Hawaiian community on the modern practices of sustainability in the landscape, Ki Concept’s landscape architect’s developed a comprehensive masterplan that showcases several landscape practices that address site-specific issues. This new site has been aptly named the “Ulu” garden after the Hawaiian word that not only means to grow, to protect, and to be inspired, but it also means a collection of things. The aim for this design is embody the meaning of ulu.
The collection of sustainable landscape practices are meant to mitigate the impact development has in and around the site, but they are also meant serve as a tool for learning. Many of the practices can be executed in several different ways, but our design hopes to inspire the average homeowner by using no cost or low cost materials coupled with ease of construction.
In general, stormwater management is usually at the top of the list when it comes to alleviating the impact development has on the site. Lyon Arboretum, being a highly precipitous site at the back of Manoa Valley, is a prime model to boast the benefits of best management practices (BMP’s). Runoff from parking lots, streets, roofs, and other impervious surfaces accumulate into a significant amount of water at higher elevations and feed into the site, eroding the soil as it flows though. Our design calls for a naturalized swale reinforced by Filtrexx socks and plant material to channel the runoff water. A series of check dams and reservoirs along the bioswale will slow the water down and to allow more time for ground infiltration and phytoremediation, while also serving the purpose of growing aquatic and riparian vegetation. Runoff from impervious roofs can be collected by gutters and stored in a rainwater tank for use in times of low precipitation.
The primary use and the main attraction of this project is the variety of gardening methods conveyed, many of which are unknown to the general public. Native ‘Ōhi’a trees line street adjacent to the entrance, where people are welcomed into the space by a sign built from gabion cages filled with rocks found on site. As the public makes their way down into the site, they follow the same path of the naturalized bioswale from which they can learn about its function through appropriate signage or labeling. The bioswale then terminates adjacent to the handicap parking pad into a raingarden retention basin, which is lined with native aquatic and riparian plants such as Kalo and Makaloa. Access through this area is achieved by a bridge built from metal grates that currently sit unused on site. Crossing over the bridge leads to the central area of the garden. A large plaza comprises the immediate area, dotted with raised planting beds constructed from various recycled and recyclable materials such as tires and corrugated metal bins. A terraced vegetable garden following the existing grades encapsulates the space opposite the bioswale. On the end closest to the existing buildings is an ipu trellace for vegetables that grow on vines, and on the end closest to the steep slope is a passage through an earthbag hale that leads to the hugelkulter gardens above. This hale is open on opposite ends allowing people to experience the transition of spaces and the uniqueness and comfort of a home made from unconventional and inexpensive sustainable materials. Once passing through, a winding path leads uphill to the spiraling hugelkultur gardens which generates a whimsical experience of exploration and provides a good vantage point of the Ulu Garden.
By displaying these distinctive practices in a manner that makes sense, the average homeowner will likely be inspired to implement one or several on their own land, after understanding how natural systems function and the necessity of protecting it.