Mariton: Master Watershed Stewards at Work

October 12, 2018

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Eileen and Bob Schmidt. Photo by Suzanne Barton

Back in August, Mariton’s yard received a little nature update. Bob and Eileen Schmidt are members, volunteers, and regular walkers at Mariton.  They are also actively involved in the Fry’s Run Watershed Association.  Bob recently completed the Master Watershed Steward Program, and wanted to do a project at Martion.  With the help of Kate Brandes (another member), Lehigh Gap Nature Center, the four of us came up with a project to plant native grasses and sedges in the swale that diverts water from the hill around the parking lot.

Like rain gardens, this is something that landowners can do on their own properties to slow down rain water run-off as well as harness the power of native plants in their landscape. Educational signs will be set up soon.

Bob cutting sod.

Watershed Stewards are required to log volunteer hours, and this was a pretty volunteer intensive project. Bob organized the volunteers and all the work.  The day before the big project he spent hours cutting the sod in the planting area.  When volunteers arrived the next day they swarmed to roll sod and plant native shrubs in a memorial garden.

Don rolling up sod.

A lot of sod to move.

Prepping the area for native shrubs.

Fonz and Jim loading sod into the truck.

Fonz Castro, one of Natural Lands’ Stewardship Assistants, worked with me that day moving the sod and placing it in low spots around the yard. The two of us hustled, but couldn’t keep ahead of the volunteers.

The seed was spread by hand. Instead of using a roller, these people are packing the seed into the soil one footstep at a time.  A still photo doesn’t do justice.  They methodically stepped on every square inch of the planting area.


What the swale looks like now, two months later.

Within four days the “nursery” crop of annual rye grass was up to hold the soil until the native grasses take hold. The rye will die out this winter and we will watch as the natives take over.  What a great project.