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Posted Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Garden Magic and St. Peter’s Church Honored for Rain Garden Project

The Morris County Board of Freeholders has honored Brian and Susan Marshall of Garden Magic LLC, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Rev. Michael Muller, all of Mountain Lakes, with county resolutions for a unique rain garden project that garnered a 2019 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award.

Freeholders Honor Mountain Lakes Firm and Church for Award Winning Environmental Project

From left, Freeholder John Krickus, Brian and Susan Marshall of Garden Magic LLC and Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.

The county resolutions were presented Monday night at the county governing board meeting in Morristown. The Marshalls had received the state award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in December at a ceremony in Trenton.

“We congratulate them for this unique project, which could be a model for use across the county, state and nation,’’ said Freeholder Stephen Shaw, who joined the Marshalls and Rev. Muller to the state award ceremony last year.

“This rain garden is a first of its kind and may have application for water and soil runoff issues that contaminate our waterways, such as the types of problems we have encountered at Lake Hopatcong,” he added.

Brian and Susan Marshall partnered with St. Peter’s to create the Next Generation Rain Garden, a state-of-the-art rain garden on church property as a landscaping solution to ease a flooding, soil erosion and water runoff problem plaguing the church and contaminating Mountain Lake.

Prior to installing the rain garden, during heavy rains runoff from the church and rectory roofs, driveway, and hill behind the church would cascade down the hill. It ran so fast that it often would jump the storm drain and carry eroded sediment and various pollutants down to The Boulevard and eventually into nearby Mountain Lake.

Freeholders Honor Mountain Lakes Firm and Church for Award Winning Environmental Project

Freeholder Director Deborah Smith, Rev. Michael Muller of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Freeholder Deputy Director Stephen Shaw.

Also, the water was eroding the soil and undermining tree root systems, causing church basement flooding.

Brian Marshall, a water resources engineer and gardener, said planning for the project began in late 2018, but not before he called on other experts from Rutgers University, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service, and the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee to take a look at the site.

A final layout for the rain garden was ready by early 2019, consisting of a rock-lined berm, a shallow stormwater basin, and a new garden planted with native shrubs and perennials.

A side benefit of the project is that it attracts birds, butterflies and other creatures to the garden, which has become a natural learning center for young students attending the Academy for Children pre-school housed at St. Peter’s.

Freeholders Honor Mountain Lakes Firm and Church for Award Winning Environmental Project