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Mayor Announces City's First Green Alley Project


Volunteers Needed to Plant Rain Gardens to Help Restore, Sustain the Health of Flood-Impacted Waterways

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Karl Dean announced today that Nashville is undertaking its first Green Alley, a project where volunteers will plant rain gardens along alleyways to help restore and sustain the health of waterways that were damaged with debris and erosion during historic flooding in May, 2010. The project also makes alleyways more walkable and safe.

The project will take place in The Nations, which was one of the neighborhoods heavily impacted by the May 2010 flood, and will be completely free to participating households. Partners for Nashville's first Green Alley Project include the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods and Impact Nashville, Hands On Nashville, Cumberland River Compact and Metro Water Services.

"Nashville's strong volunteer spirit shone through during our city's recovery from the 2010 flood, and this project is an extension of that same sense of coming together to make our city even better than it was before," Mayor Dean said. "Volunteers will work to beautify a neighborhood while also helping make our city stronger by making it more resilient to weather-related events. It is my hope that this project will become a successful model of stormwater mitigation that other neighborhoods can replicate."

Residents in The Nations can request to participate in the program to receive the rain garden materials for free and the option to have volunteers plant the gardens during the spring or fall seasons. The rain gardens will be planted in residents' backyards closest to the alleyway. The goal is to reduce the amount of polluted stormwater that travels from homeowners' properties into Richland Creek. The project also creates a model of citizen-led water stewardship and builds neighborhood spirit.

The rain garden plantings will take place from March through May and again September through November. Volunteers interested in helping plant rain gardens can visit

Nashville is funding the Green Alley project with the Cities of Service award of $35,000 it received in December for national achievement in impact volunteering and environmental sustainability efforts. Nashville's recovery from, and proactive resilience planning against, storm water damage are captured in a Cities of Service blueprint called "Storm Busters," that is also available to other cities for learning and adoption.

A green alley uses green space along alleyways to capture and infiltrate storm water traveling off the alley, yards, houses and driveways to a nearby waterway with the goal to have zero runoff from residential properties along the alleys. Nashville's project is unique in that it is focused on a residential neighborhood to engage people who live there to plant and maintain rain gardens in the neighborhood alleys.

Rain gardens are a natural and beautiful way to reduce and clean storm water. They are shallow, depressed gardens designed to collect rain water and allow it time to filter into the ground, resulting in cleaner water, less water entering storm systems and more water refilling the underground water table that keeps small streams flowing during the dry summer months. To learn more about the benefits of rain gardens, visit