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Stormwater Mitigation for Big Boy Restaurant Parking Lot

Posted By on 3 April 2013 in analysis, design process, native planting, site planning + planting design, stormwater mitigation, technical skills |

Stormwater Mitigation for Big Boy Restaurant Parking Lot

An owner of a Big Boy Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan was fed up with the many challenges associated with stormwater runnoff (such as increased maintenance costs due to continued parking lot re-paving, unappealing aesthetic condition of the asphalt, and the wastefulness of all that water going down the drains!), so approached my Planting Design studio to ask for advice on how to best mitigate the stormwater on his site.



 Numerous site visits were conducted to:

+ survey the lot’s topography,

+ assess where the runoff and subwatersheds were located,

Digest of Diagrams3

+ test the soil’s infiltration rate,

+ talk to the client,

+ calculate the amount of water needing to be captured and infiltrated during a storm event’s “first flush” (the first 1/2″ of stormwater), and

+ determine and size the necessary amount of stormwater mitigation solutions (such as rain gardens and pervious pavement).



The client maintained a fair amount of “eccentrically planted” flower beds around his building, and was looking for designs that reused runoff for irrigation,  and also maintained his current “unique” aesthetic.



Check out the solution I “cooked up” below–it’s modeled off of a meal served at Big Boy!


Site Design + Planting Plan for Stormwater Mitigation


The design solution illustrated above not only mitigates stormwater, but also attracts the masses by creating a unique “Tourist Destination Off US-23”. The perfect combo meal!

This design treats the parking lot like a giant meal served at Big Boy, complete with a:

+ soda pop cistern is located in the upper right corner,

+ central raingarden that is planted to resemble a hamburger

+ series of peripheral raingardens that’s plantings mimic sides of fries and ketchup

The design also includes a “signature raingarden” (where a large “BB” is created out of red-osier dogwood shrubs and white rock), a larger-than-life replica of Big Boy’s head built into the landscape, and a pervious pavement pattern that replicates Big Boy’s red and white checkboard overalls.


Who says stormwater mitigation can’t be fun?!


Take a look at the entire [BIG OPPORTUNITIES FOR A SMALLER ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT POSTER] I created for the client to help educate his customers about stormwater and his effort to mitigate it–it’s modeled off a Big Boy Restaurant menu!