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Friday, December 14, 2018

Last day when the site is planted

The section where the water will enter the conservation landscape area is lined in stones to help slow down the water and have it soak into the ground. 

At the same time, the plants are set in place. Micro-berms are laid perpendicular to the water flow, which also helps slow down the stormwater entering the garden.

A new bay magnolia tree anchors the north-west side.

Large stones lead up from the playground to the Three Oaks homes on the upper level.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Day 3: Conservation Landscaping Construction

Day 3 and the plants are going in.

Large stepping stones will lead the families to the upper level homes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Day 2: Conservation Landscape Construction

Today is the final removal of turf and ground cover.
Turf removal and a temporary sign

We put up a temporary sign to let local owners and pedestrians know what's coming soon for storm water management.

Kit Gage (Friends of Sligo Creek) and Mark Dennis (Back Yard Bounty) review the water diversion placement. A trench or speed hump will direct the water into the conservation landscape area.

The ground will need to be dug out in order for it to dip down off the curb. This will allow rain water to pool and then flow slowly down hill.

As the water flows down hill, the goal is to "slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in."

The micro-berms are set up to slow down the water. Their placement is critical to make sure the water does not "blow out" a berm and then overflow into the street.

Jeff Popp (Chesapeake Bay Trust) arrived on site to meet our team leaders and to make sure things were progressing properly according to grant rules.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Day 1: Conservation Landscaping Construction

The landscapers arrived early. Most of the day was digging up grass, invasive ground cover (vinca) and honeysuckle bushes.

Before: Looking uphill over ground cover

Removing ground cover

On Day 1 there's a lot of digging and pulling to get the invasives loose. 

Before: Looking downhill over invasive growth

As you look downhill (before) you can see the honeysuckle bushes and English ivy (with poison ivy hidden underneath). 

After: Looking downhill with invasives removed

The ground is pretty bare with the invasive ground covers and honeysuckles removed.
During the day, the children in the playground kept an eye on all the activity. 

At the end of the day, a youngster 
ran up and starting digging and poking, saying, "This is where they are planting a new garden. I'm going to draw some  lines to show the workers where to put things." 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Storm water management in Seven Oaks Park

The hill going up to Hamilton Ave
For quite a few years, Friends of Sligo Creek, Three Oaks Association, and neighbors who live near Seven Oaks have talked to Montgomery County representatives from the Department of Parks and the Department of Environmental Protection about erosion and rain issues on the steep hill leading from Hamilton Avenue down to the playground. 

This photo shows the erosion on the hill that goes up to Hamilton Avenue during a 2017 rain storm. 

The County has tried several remediation efforts, such unclogging the upper and lower storm drains and re-planting the grass on the hill. Nothing has been very effective, partly due to prior erosion paths, the steepness of the hill, the deep shade in this area, and the fact that it’s a sledding hill.

Mud collects near the park drain
The erosion means that muddy stormwater collects at the bottom of the hill, which stops up the storm drain or sits below the drain.
Then the mud and silt overflow down the Three Oaks sidewalk and parking area, and run down the street and into our storm drains, which empty into Sligo Creek.

In August 2018, representatives from Three Oaks HOA and Friends of Sligo Creek initiated a new collaboration with Montgomery County Parks and Montgomery County Rainscapes (DEP). After meeting at the site, attendees discussed several solutions that would help, such as removing one impervious walkway, re-grading the area, and adding plants to absorb water. 

There is not one easy, simple solution due to mature trees and electric and water lines. A few drawings were produced and a follow-up meeting was held on November 15, 2018 with a County Parks  engineer. 

Three Oaks Association signed a letter of collaboration, expressing our agreement if the sidewalk removal and planted area was partly on Three Oaks Association (3OA) property.  3OA also will pay our landscapers to maintain the planted area. 

Proposed plans for slowing down rain water
Everyone agreed that the mutual collaboration would make the project more viable. Plus this effort pairs nicely with the nearby Conservation Landscaping being installed by 3OA under a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant.

The 11/15/2018 meeting included representatives from County Parks, DEP, FOSC, and 3OA.  

We talked through the last changes to a design that will be implemented by the County Parks department during winter 2018 or spring 2019.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Look for our "coming soon" signs!

Our new Conservation Landscaping is coming soon!

Look for our sign near the Little Free Libraries in Seven Oaks Park and Playground. You'll see the concept drawing and an arrow pointing to the planned construction next to the street, up above the large boulders.

Storm Drain stickers help alert people to where drains exit

It's important to inform and educate the public about storm drains. Many of us do not know that around 70% of all storm drains lead directly into open waterways, without any treatment.

That is certainly true of the storm drains on Three Oaks Drive. Our storm drains run directly into Sligo Creek.  Street pollutants, silt, pet wastes, pesticides, asphalt granules from our roofs: These all run into our open storm drains, and these items damage the creek's water quality. 

And since Sligo Creek runs into the Anacostia and from there into the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay, the health of every waterway affects the next part of the water system -- all the way to the ocean. 

A drain marker provides a visual "warning sign" to help inform and educate people that anything that is poured/dropped into the drain will go into waterways untreated.

Montgomery County supports individuals, groups, and communities that want to install drain markers on their storm drains. Go to the links below to learn how to help and to get your free materials. It's a great project for a family, a scout troop, a classroom, or a church group. 

Please go to these links: 

  • Join the Montgomery County storm drain marking program.  

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Telling families at the park & playground about our Conservation Landscape project

The Three Oaks Association and Friends of Sligo Creek are getting closer to the installation of the Conservation Landscape project.

In October, we spent some time in the Seven Oaks Park and Playground. The park is busy with children and families who play here, as well as numerous joggers, dog walkers, and bike riders who are passing through, enjoying the fall weather.

Maya, Stella, and Aubrey represent the 'hood
 in learning about capturing stormwater.

We are telling people about the upcoming construction, what the purpose is, what it will look like, and how it will benefit them and our environment.

"Think about where you're walking so you don't
hurt the new plants," says Nina 

Nina is showing friends where the new landscape will be, and how children should walk around the new plants as they are getting established.

Friday, November 2, 2018

More presentations to Three Oaks Association homeowners

The Storm Water Grant Team held another information session with HOA owners.

It was a great chance to hear how Montgomery County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust are working with property owners to control stormwater and help get it back into the ground instead of running into storm drains.  Every effort to divert rain water into the ground helps reduce pollution in Sligo Creek.

The question of the evening was how to divert rain water from our parking lot and street into the new Conservation Landscaping. 

A speed bump is one way to divert water across a road. 

But on our street, there's a steep uphill curve. 

When you have to navigate snow and ice in the winter,  a speed bump that forces you to slow down at the crest of hill can be treacherous

We talked about the pros and cons of installing a trench drain instead. 

The main downside is the cost: 
A trench drain costs more than three times as much as an asphalt speed bump. 

There were several questions. 

How will the Conservation Landscaping be maintained?
Answer: The weeding and mulching will be added to the 3OA annual landscaping contract. 

How would you keep a  trench drain clear of leaves and debris?
Answer: 3OA currently cleans out our drainage system once a year. The trench drain could be added to that contract. 

Our owners are enthusiastic and they have lots of ideas!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Information Sessions for Homeowners

Presentations to our Three Oaks Association Owners

Our Three Oaks Association Storm Water Grant Team held several information sessions with the HOA owners and renters.

First we gave background information on what storm water is, why it can be a problem in our neighborhood, and what we can do about it.

We have some terrific presentation posters to illustrate all of those points.

Second, we handed out material that shows what our Grant budget looks like, including how much is matched by our HOA reserve funds and by "in-kind" donations from our neighbors.

We also offered drawings that illustrate the current property area and the concept of the Conservation Landscape as it will be constructed in November 2018.

Owners like to see the detailed plant illustrations, which give them ideas of what native plants will flourish in their personal yards. 


Prior to Construction: Perc Test completed!

We needed a perc test!

As we get closer to the construction of our Conservation Landscape (CL), a Three Oaks Association owner (Katherine) enlisted the help of her grandchildren to dig a hole and check if the water would drain according to CL rules.
This drainage check is commonly called a "perc test," where you see if the water percolates quickly enough into the soil to allow proper drainage. If the soil does not "perc" quickly enough, then the rainwater will simply run downhill and pool at the lowest point.

Children can help dig and measure a for a perc test!
This test is ideal for eager hands and a strong shovel. You also need a measuring tape to make the hole the proper depth.

After digging the hole, you fill it with water. After waiting 24 hours, check the hole. If the water has all drained and the hole is empty, the perc test is successful.  Some standards ask for a repeat.

While doing this test, be sure to cover the hole or fence it off so no one will hurt themselves. And then fill the hole when the test is completed.

Here's a great pdf that gives easy illustrations for doing a perc test:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Free light bulb swap!

At one of the 5 Books and Bulbs events in Montgomery County, MD 

October is Energy Action Month!  Montgomery County is celebrating with programs and events that can help residents and businesses save energy and money.

Books and Bulbs are free events where County residents bring their old, inefficient light bulbs and trade them for free for up to 3 LED bulbs, a kids’ activity book, and a reusable bag. 
  • Wed, Oct 10 from 3-5pm at Connie Morella Library in Bethesda
  • Sat, Oct 13 from 10:30am-12:30pm at Damascus Library
  • Mon, Oct 15 from 4-6pm at Maggie Nightingale Library in Poolesville
  • Thurs, Oct 18 from 5-7pm at Marilyn J. Praisner Library in Burtonsville
  • Sat, Oct 27 from 12-2pm at the White Oak Library

More information on Montgomery County's Energy Events

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Power of Volunteers

A crew of volunteers were out this weekend picking up trash near Long Branch Library . They had Orange M-NCPPC County Park trash bags, and everything they picked up kept it out of the nearby storm drain, which flows into Long Branch.  A great demonstration of the power of volunteers. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

See the Slow the Flow message in the Friends of Sligo Creek kiosks

As you walk the Sligo Creek trail, the several kiosks give us pertinent information on enjoying nature as well as keeping our stream healthy. 

In August, the Slow the Flow team set up the kiosks to promote our message.

The FOSC Kiosk helps everyone
Here is a knowledgeable mother explaining stormwater management to her child. This is a good example of "Each one teach one."

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Ocean Plastics Lab -- Part 2

--We all use plastics. We all know plastics hurt our environment and our planet. 
--What can we do?  Here are a few ideas in a short quiz from the "Oceans Plastic Lab." (link:
--Try looking at the quiz with your family or friends and look for ways to help our planet on a very local and personal level. 

This graphic from illustrates the prediction that
by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Ocean Plastics Lab

Our every day choices affect not only Sligo Creek, but also eventually the Ocean!

The Ocean Plastics Lab    is an international traveling exhibit about science. It showcases the contribution of science to understand and tackle the problem  of plastics in the ocean. 

Here's a great video and an overview of the "Four Containers" at each exhibit, which is set up as a hand-on science lab. The containers invites the public to assume the role of scientists and explore the extent and impact of plastics in the ocean. 

Go to this link to see summaries of past exhibits and look forward to upcoming ones.

Here's a flyer for this event

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Girl Scouts Meet with our Slow the Flow Team!

Local Girl Scout troop 4005 spent a recent troop meeting in Three Oaks Association learning about stormwater management. 

Scouts learn about stormwater management
Posters and handouts gave them insights into how stormwater can be harmful to our local streams, and, ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay. 

The group discussed various stormwater management techniques

Girls took home a handout card

The girls talked about a volunteer project: Installing storm drain markers in Three Oaks Association and other streets near their homes. 

  • Storm drain markers help educate the public about our storm drain system. 
  • In Montgomery County the water that enters a storm drain goes directly into our rivers. 
  • This stormwater carries pollutants such as litter, pet waste, fertilizers, leaking auto fluids, or anything else that ends on the ground.  
  • These pollutants go directly into our waterways, and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. 

The Girl Scout troop agreed to install storm drain markers sometime in the next couple of months. Watch our blog to see the finished results!

For more details on storm drain making and an application, go to:

Image of storm drain marker.
Storm Drain Marker (Courtesy: Montgomery County, MD Department of Environmental Protection)

Sample materials that the Slow the Flow grant team uses to illustrate stormwater management.

How stormwater moves from our homes to our streams (Courtesy: Montgomery County, MD Dept of Envrionmental Protection) 
Dry wells and rain gardens can capture stormwater (Courtesy:


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Storm water problems are very noticeable during a rainstorm

Where does rain water go in your neighborhood?  The best way to find out is to take a walk outside during a storm. Put on your boots and raincoat and go see what happens!

In this first photo, you can look up at the hill from the Seven Oaks Park and Playground. The water is running down the steep hill because the ground is not porous enough to absorb the water. The result is erosion and the topsoil is carried down into a storm drain (between the two trees on the left side).

Hill above Seven Oaks Park & Playground

The fine particles of soil, called silt, go into the drain and end up in Sligo Creek. Silt is not beneficial to the stream, because it causes a cloudy plume, which blocks sunlight and kills vegetation.

This second photo shows the mud that collects at the bottom of the hill. The hard-packed earth does not absorb the water easily, and it sits on the low-lying sidewalk. The mud is made up partly of silt, some of which washes into the storm drain near the playground (in the center of the photo). The rest of the mud sits on the sidewalk, a nuisance to pedestrians. 

Sidewalk near Seven Oaks Park after a heavy rain

If you walk down the Three Oaks Association parking lot, you will see the water sweeping down the asphalt, picking up oils, pollutants, and trash on its way, until it reaches a storm drain. From there the water goes into a large pipe and gets dumped into Sligo Creek.

Three Oaks Association parking lot during a rain storm

Friday, May 11, 2018

Children are Eager Learners

It does not take much to show children how to be "all in" with environmental campaigns. 

On Earth Day several friends were talking in the Three Oaks Homeowners Association. We heard a voice behind us say, "Kids, there's another one." Turning around, we saw two children who quickly stopped in their tracks, bent down to pick up a single soda straw, and add it to their father's bag. 

It takes just a little time and energy to engage children and show them what is needed to improve our world. Thank you to all our neighbors who walk down Three Oaks Drive to enjoy Sligo Creek!   #SligoCreek

Kids picking up trash with their dad at Three Oaks Association
Picking up trash: Earth Day at Three Oaks Association on Three Oaks Drive

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC) Kiosk

Three Oaks Association homeowners are so lucky to live near Sligo Creek!  

Equally lucky is that we live near a terrific kiosk maintained by FOSC on the hiking trail at the footbridge between Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue near the intersection of Bennington Drive. This is where the Bennington Tributary runs into Sligo Creek.

Every month or so volunteers post animal facts, photos, poems, and nature commentary in the kiosk. There is usually information about upcoming events that relate to the environment and caring for our local Sligo Creek and the broader community. Check it out to see what gem is there this month!

Kiosk at Sligo Creek and Bennington Drive
FOSC Kiosk at Sligo Creek and the Bennington Drive Footbridge

Right now (to celebrate the April "Sweep the Creek" clean-up day)
you can enjoy a special drawing and poem. 
The drawing shows the water flowing down Sligo Creek
into the Anacostia River into the Potomac, and then into the Chesapeake Bay.  

Catch the poem: 
Trash that lands in Sligo Creek
Ends up in the Chesapeake.
Help pick it up without delay,
Before it flows into the Bay.

Poem and drawing at the FOSC Kiosk near Bennington Dr.
Poem and drawing that illustrate why trash in streams is wrong!