The Downtown Boxing Gym Plants a Rain Garden

Our students, staff and volunteers got to work and got their hands dirty — digging along the side of our yard  — as part of a project that’s both beautiful and practical.

The Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program is nurturing something new! It’s our new rain garden and it was planted this week. So what’s a rain garden?

According to experts, it’s a shallow area filled with native plants that can tolerate a wide range of soil types and weather conditions. Rain gardens are designed to help hold rainwater from big storms, thanks to the deep roots they send into the soil. Those roots let water slowly permeate the ground and prevent stormwater from rushing into drains where it can overwhelm wastewater treatment systems and flush pollution into our local rivers and the Great Lakes.

The rain garden will also help the gym save money over time, thanks to reduced drainage fees on stormwater processing.

“We have kind of a unique sewer system in the Great Lakes watershed, the River Rouge watershed,” said Kyle Kentala, a regular Downtown Boxing Gym volunteer who organized the rain garden project. “When the system can’t keep up with the rain during a heavy rainfall, the drainage system hooks up with the sewer system and washes into the Great Lakes.

“The more we can educate people on this and get people on board, the less stormwater is going to go into the system, which can help with that sewer backup,” she said.

The roughly 200 square-foot rain garden sits in a spot near East Vernor that often floods after heavy rains. It’s fed by redirecting some of the downspouts that carry rainwater off the gym’s enormous roof.

Kentala says sewer and stormwater processing fees are the highest part of the gym’s water bill.

“This is a way that the gym can actively work on bringing some of those costs down,” she said.

Our rain garden features six native plant species that will provide beauty, wildlife habitat and educational and enrichment opportunities for our students:

A $600 grant from the Friends of the Rouge, the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program and Keep Growing Detroit under the Rain Gardens to the Rescue program funded the project.

We are grateful to these organizations, our students, staff and volunteers for bringing the rain garden project to life. Be sure to stop and take a look!