New green playgrounds help mitigate flood risk

20 July 2023 2 minute read

The project team at Abbey Mead Primary School’s new rainwater garden and seating area.

Trees for Cities has been working with three Leicester schools to revamp their playgrounds with new gardens, trees and planters as part of a natural approach to managing localised flood risk.

Leicester City Council was awarded £100,000 of government cash from the Department for Education as part of a four-year national programme to build sustainable urban drainage systems in schools that are vulnerable to surface water flooding.

Sustainable drainage systems – or SuDS – can help manage flood risk following heavy rainfall through natural measures by holding excess water in purpose-built wetland areas or rain gardens, and away from buildings.

So far, three Leicester schools have benefitted from sustainable drainage schemes, which have also help improve underused playground areas and create attractive new outdoor spaces for staff and children to enjoy.

Grace Walker, Landscape Design Manager at Trees for Cities

At Trees for Cities, we put nature-based solutions at the core of tackling the climate crisis and believe in the power of trees to transform neighbourhoods. This project aims to capture and take advantage of the vast amounts of rainwater runoff from the playground and recycle it to water and feed trees and large areas of planting. Whilst reducing the urban heat effect of the play area, it creates engaging, educational and habitat-rich spaces within the school.

Grace Walker, Landscape Design Manager at Trees for Cities

At Abbey Mead Primary Academy, in Belgrave, a problem muddy area next to the playground has been transformed into a new seating and play area bordered with two rainwater gardens to help hold excess water from the playground. The scheme also features a new wildflower-rich swale area, a timber wall for shade, and more planting.

Bridge Junior School, in North Evington, has also seen its playground revamped with the addition of a new rainwater garden. A swale and wildflower scrape has also been added to the school’s sensory garden.

And a new nature garden, complete with a wooden bridge spanning a rainwater swale, has been created at Linden Primary School, in Evington. The school has also seen the creation of some new green-roofed areas, a large rain garden, and a fox mound using the excess soil, along with new tree planting.

All the new schemes feature biodiversity benefits, with pollinator-friendly planting and new habitats for local wildlife, including bee hotels and hibernacula that will provide shelter for wildlife in the cold winter months.

The city council worked along side Trees for Cities, Severn Trent Water, and specialist contractor Wildscapes Cooperative to design and deliver the schemes, with input from staff and children at each of the three schools.

As part of the project, pupils also took part in a range of activities to help raise awareness of climate change, the impact of extreme weather and the importance of flood prevention.

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