Backhoes, dump trucks, boulders and other materials are the telltale signs that something is happening in the Garden. The restoration project for the Schenk’s Branch tributary stream that bisects the Botanical Garden began in August and a lot of progress has been made, according to Dan Frisbee, Water Resources Specialist for the City of Charlottesville. The contractor on the program, KBS Earthworks, Inc., is working at least five days a week to complete this important step in building the Garden and protecting the environment around the stream.

While the project is underway, Garden visitors arriving by car must park along Melbourne Road as our parking area serves as the staging area for the KBS Earthworks equipment and materials. Visitors can enter the Garden via the pedestrian entrance on Melbourne Road. Wayfinding signs help direct visitors down the hill to the site of the restoration and the sound of heavy equipment will also guide you to the fenced work area. You won’t have to go far to see transformation taking place.

Initially, all trees within 35 feet of the stream’s center, many of which were diseased and damaged, were removed to accommodate the construction of new meanders within the stream. However, nothing will be wasted. These trees, including their substantial root balls, will be integrated into the stream banks as stabilizing structures that will also provide habitat for stream life.
A second major task is grading the eroded banks of the stream. Graded stream banks will allow water during a storm event to dissipate and be less erosive. They will also allow Garden visitors to better approach, play in, and study the stream.

Huge boulders beside the worksite are another element of this project and will be used to create channels that direct the flow of water and create deeper water for stream habitat.
Dan describes another appealing feature which will soon be in place. At the point where another smaller stream enters the Schenk’s Branch tributary the KBS team will build a cascade, which not only will add a soothing and lovely element to the Garden, it will also add oxygen to the water in the stream and benefit aquatic life. The cascade will be within easy viewing from a bridge that will carry a spur of the Rivanna Trail across the Garden’s stream and will be a healthy and sustainable addition for Garden visitors and Rivanna Trail travelers.

This stream restoration project is a significant step in the Garden’s evolution. When the restoration is completed, an important final stage will take place – the replanting of the healthy stream bank. More than 1,000 native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants will be installed, and the community will be invited to help.
In the meantime, join us in the Garden and watch the progress (from a safe distance). Learn more about the importance of the project from the signs near
the stream, generously provided by a grant from Bamaworks, or on our website at