Claxton rain garden opens on campus

The Claxton rain garden has been formally opened behind the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.


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This semester marks a trend towards environmental awareness on the University of Tennessee campus as the Claxton Rain Garden makes its formal debut.

The 3,500 square foot oasis display, with around 2,150 plants, is located behind the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.

According to information provided by the Office of Sustainability, the Green Infrastructure Project has, “transformed underutilized landscape fragments into multi-functional, aesthetically appealing spaces while providing experiential and service learning opportunities for students and enhancing water quality in and around campus.”

In urban areas like Knoxville, storm water runoff collects dirt, oils, pesticides, bacteria, and more as it travels. Rain gardens aim to filter polluted storm water to prevent it from contaminating local waterways like the Tennessee River. These rain gardens harbor specific plants that can handle the extremities of the pollutants and provide a way to manage excess runoff water.

“As examples of multi-functional landscapes, these projects are intended to raise awareness and catalyze a dialogue around how green infrastructure can become an integral part of the future of our campus,” the Office of Sustainability said.

While students walking to class may admire the new Claxton Rain Garden, hidden underneath the surface lays a soil ecosystem that solves the problem of high volume storm water that pollutes waterways.

These gardens on campus provide a hands-on way for students to get involved with environmental projects. The Green Infrastructure Project team plans on implementing more storm water projects across campus in the future. These projects could include initiatives like garden play area flooring, enhancing both sustainability and recreational opportunities for students.

Many organizations on campus helped bring this garden to fruition, including staff from Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, Plant Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, TN Water Resources Research Center, Environmental Design Lab and Facilities Services.

For more information on the Green Infrastructure Project, contact the Office of Sustainability at

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Cherry.

Edited by Courtney Anderson

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