GroundWork New Orleans



“The mission of Groundwork New Orleans is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement, and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships that empower people businesses and organization to promote environmental, economic and social well-being. Groundwork New Orleans shares its mission with more than twenty Groundwork Trusts around the country. Each Trust is an independent, environmental and business-minded non-profit, that together form the Groundwork USA Network. Groundwork New Orleans works with people to improve the livability of New Orleans for all residents, including desired plants and animals. As a vital part of the ecology of New Orleans, people are the primary force for ensuring its health and survival.” [1]

Rain Gardens

GroundWork New Orleans is helping to increase the stability of the urban landscape in New Orleans by installing rain gardens throughout the city. When rain falls on an impervious surfaces (areas like roofs, sidewalks, and roads) it cannot soak into the ground and thus rushes toward the lowest point, hopefully a storm drain or in the worst case it collects and causes flooding. The rain picks up dirt and debris, oil and gas leaked from automobiles, lawn fertilizers and pesticides, and chemicals from industrial and commercial activities. These pollutants are eventually pumped out into Lake Pontchartrain. A raingarden is designed to collect and infiltrate this storm water runoff before it can enter a drain or become stagnant. A raingarden is a shallow landscaped depression created by excavating existing soil and replacing some of it with porous material, like sand and gravel, and nutrient-rich material like compost. The area is then restored with native plants. [2]

In New Orleans, raingardens reduce the use of pumping stations. Our pumping stations account for 40% of our municipal greenhouse gas emissions and are expensive to operate. Deep plant roots and a porous soil mix store and absorb water, 30% more than a conventional lawn. Raingardens support a greater variety of wildlife than typical landscaping while preventing the stagnant water that breeds mosquitoes. Plant species native to the region, such as wetland fauna, are accustomed to heavy and fluctuating rainfall, decreasing maintenance needs. Many pollutants are remediated through physical, chemical, and biological processes like settling, accumulation by plants, and the activity of soil micro-organisms. Water and the water cycle become visible and beautiful aspects of the landscape. This Improves aesthetics and increases the quality of life in an area. [3]

Lower Ninth Ward

GroundWork New Orleans is very active in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. They were solicited for their knowledge of rainwater catchment to participate in Spring Greening. Organized Historic Green, the annual initiative integrates sustainable building and landscape practices with preservation. Groundwork New Orleans designed and installed a rainwater harvesting system, including gutters and a rain barrel, to complete the management of water on a residents property. The system continues to help mitigate localized flooding issues and reduce the demand on the potable water supply. Groundwork New Orleans has also assisted with Rain Garden Construction at the Global Green Site in Holy Cross. They have collaborated on rain gardens at Our School at Blair Grocery, a education and urban farm center. They have installed a rain garden at the Make It Right sites and have worked on restoring the Bayou Beinvenue Overlook with various Lower Nine organizations. They are currently working with Common Ground and Bayou Rebirth on collaborative pocket gardens located at various locations in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes. [4]

Other Sites and Partnerships

Groundwork New Orleans, in partnership with Timberland Boot Company, City Year, Ashe Cultural Arts Center and the Oretha Castle Haley Main Street Program have developed a large scale beautification and rainwater management project along Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. They currently have 9 rain garden sites at this location. [5]

Groundwork New Orleans organized, with the help of the Broadmoor neighborhood group and the USEPA Brownfields program, a volunteer program to install rain gardens along the perimeter of Andrew Wilson School to help fulfill its goal of LEED Platinum designation. [6]

Groundwork New Orleans worked with EcoUrban, LLC to design and install landsaping at a Tulane University architecture program student-built house in Central City. They approached the project by matching environmental best practices with cost-effective, affordable, low-maintenance techniques. This project included a porous driveway that would absorb rain rather than create runoff. [7]

Adopting a Rain Garden

Groundwork New Orleans encourages the community to adopt and sponsor rain gardens. The direct beneficiary of a rain garden’s ecosystem services are encouraged to adopt it; however anyone is welcome to adopt a rain garden! Adopting a rain garden means being trained by Groundwork New Orleans staff in sustainable maintenance. Your work will be supported by volunteer days organized by Groundwork New Orleans. Groundwork New Orleans is available to businesses, residents, and neighborhoods for consultation and installation services, providing site specific advice; advice plus project management; advice and an installation kit; or total installation. [8]

Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward

GroundWork New Orleans is one of many organizations that have worked to restore the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. As part of a larger study of the impact and networks of of non-profits in 2013 (please see Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward for more details), we can see that this organization excels in the following areas:


2. Provisions of Collective Goods
Rain gardens can be located in public areas where residents and visitors can freely enjoy them. However many rain gardens are also located at private residents or businesses. While these are not available to the public, the flood mitigation these rain gardens provide is enjoyed by everyone in their surrounding area.

3. Opportunities to Volunteer
GroundWork New Orleans provides many opportunities to volunteer both non-professionally and professionally. They have already totaled 1595 non-professional volunteer hours and 940 professional volunteer hours on rain gardens around the city.

Participation in Information Sharing

When we analyze GroundWork New Orleans based on its extent of participation in information sharing activities, we see they are active in 3 ways:

1. Training
GroundWork New Orleans trains adoptees of rain gardens on proper techniques for creating and maintaining a rain garden to be the most effective, efficient and beneficial to the environment.

3. Networking
GroundWork New Orleans is very connected throughout the city. They have collaborated with 6 other organizations in this study (Common Ground, Bayou Rebirth, Global Green USA, CSED, Make It Right) working on rain gardens at their sites or teaming up with them on projects in the Lower Nine and beyond.

4. Social Change
GroundWork New Orleans is supporting and encouraging social change by advocating for a more sustainable means of dealing with run off and standing water. Their environmentally friendly and forward practices are helping New Orleans to better protect its environment and its residents.


  • About Us, GroundWork New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • What is a Rain Garden?, Ground Work New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • What is a Rain Garden?, Ground Work New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • Rain Gardens, GroundWork New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • Rain Gardens, GroundWork New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • Rain Gardens, GroundWork New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • Rain Gardens, GroundWork New Orleans, August 18th 2013,
  • Rain Gardens, GroundWork New Orleans, August 18th 2013,

This page was last modified on 19 August 2013, at 03:58