Hillendale fights water runoff with 600 trees

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
All the trees planted around Hillendale Elementary Oct. 12 are native to Pennsylvania. (Candice Monhollan)

All the trees planted around Hillendale Elementary Oct. 12 are native to Pennsylvania. (Candice Monhollan)

Anyone driving down Hillendale Road is going to get a little shock as they pass by Hillendale Elementary School and see 600 tall green tubes lining the fields around the parking lot.

Students, parents and teachers flocked to the school to plant hundreds of little trees around the school in order to help fight stormwater runoff on Oct. 12.

“I couldn’t believe the turnout here,” said Kevin Quinlan, father of a Hillendale first grader. “Mother Nature helped us out. It was a little easier digging the holes when the ground is already nice and moist for you.”

… [Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]

The trees were just part of the morning event as volunteers also helped plant shrubbery on the retention basin and spreading mulch on the playground.

“This is one part of a much broader project which started last spring,” said Steve Dissinger, Hillendale’s principal. “We put in a series of basins over the summer and some rain gardens.”

The biggest issue the school faced concerned stormwater runoff. The water has been eroding the land neighboring Hillendale to the southeast.

“(The erosion) created a huge ditch in the neighboring property,” Dissinger said. “What’s more important is that it’s putting a lot of silt and dirt into Craigs Mill Run, which is a stream that runs at the bottom of our property.”

Hard surfaces such as a parking lot speeds up the amount of water flowing off a property, which is the situation the school faced.

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District partnered up with Pennsbury Township to develop the plan, which started with the basins.

“We have been working with the Brandywine Conservancy,” Dissinger said. “Wes Horner and Tony Robalik wrote a grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society as part of their TreeVitalize program.”

The grant got Hillendale 600 trees, which are all native to Pennsylvania – hardwood, maple, oak, basswood, magnolia, tulip poplar and dogwood.

With the trees now planted around the lot, they will help by catching falling water in the leaves and branches and slowly release the water back into the atmosphere instead of ending up on the ground.

Though the turnout was better than expected, not all of the volunteers have ever gotten their hands dirty with trees.

“(I planted a tree) one time before,” Quinlan said. “I had a little bit of experience doing this, but this is the first time on this scale and this many trees. I wish we had this kind of help around our house.”

Not only was the day special for students who came out to help, but it’s also something they can enjoy for a long time to come.

“We were talking about it with Pat (our son),” Quinlan said. “Only being in first grade, by the time he is in fifth grade, he’ll get to see these trees grow up before he even leaves here.”

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