Landscapes of the Month: Stabilizing Shorelines for an HOA - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Stabilizing Shorelines for an HOA

Photo: Pizzo & Associates, Ltd.

Located in Oakbrook, Illinois, the Brook Forest Community Association intended for numerous shorelines to be stabilized and regraded based on the effects of erosion. In order to complete the project, the client hired Pizzo & Associates, Ltd., based in Leland, Illinois, to take it on.

Due to the successful outcome of the project, Pizzo & Associates received a Gold Award in the 2022 Awards of Excellence.

Before the project, there was an eroded shoreline with turfgrass.

“Receiving an award for our work at Brook Forest Community Association gives recognition that nature has value,” says Jack Pizzo, president of Pizzo and Associates, Ltd. “It shows that solving common problems with natural systems is not only functional but beautiful too. Working with nature is truly rewarding to us and the clients.”

The client has been with Pizzo and Associates for a few years. The client found out about the company through a speech Jack Pizzo, who is also a public speaker, had done on the restoration and management of natural systems. After the speech, the board president approached the company, and after a few years of working out the logistics and permits, the project was started.

Throughout project construction, multiple challenges had to be dealt with. Shoreline erosion within the ponds and channel segments had caused severe undercutting. This was due to fluctuations in water level, erosive velocities, Canadian geese populations, ice sheer, and inappropriate vegetation.

Photo: Pizzo & Associates, Ltd.

To solve the issue of erosion, the shorelines needed extensive soil-lifts and vegetated rock toe; this resulted in a re-design that stabilized exactly 3,000 linear feet of shoreline. To compensate for the inappropriate vegetation, simple grading techniques were used to drastically reduce bioengineering measures, such as coir fibers rolls and vegetated rock toe within the high-velocity area downstream from the second dam.

Not only was erosion an issue but permitting was also a challenge. The Brook Forest stormwater management system is a component of Ginger Creek, and wetland, riparian and aquatic habitats are extremely regulated and valued in DuPage County, Illinois.

“We had to work with the authorities to get a plan approved,” says Pizzo. “The plan was the first ever ‘Fast Track’ permit in the county since it was exactly what the ordinances called for.”

The team’s firm’s involvement in the planning and permitting stages resulted in significant value to the project, which saved the Brook Forest HOA $300,000 in construction costs and $50,000 in design fees.

Rain during project construction was also a major issue. When working on the stormwater management system for the subdivision, even light rain would cause changes to the construction process. This caused delays in regrading, tree and bush removal, planting seeds and plants, and installation of erosion control materials and goose exclosures. Due to the natural areas being adjacent to the lawn, a six-foot-wide buffer between the native planting and the lawn had been put into place. This was done due to anticipation regarding the overspray of the lawn.

Photo: Pizzo & Associates, Ltd.

“Our firm is engaged in an education program of the homeowners,” Pizzo says. “Natural systems are new to a lot of people, so we are always teaching.”

During project execution, permits were still a problem. The section of Ginger Creek that Pizzo and Associates were working on contains regulatory floodplain and floodway areas, which require a permit throughout the Village of Oak Brook; a full-waiver community that conducts County & Army Corps of Engineers permit review in-house. 

The design part of the project took roughly six months due to the permitting approval from the country and the Village of Oak Brook. Three months were spent installing the natural area, and Pizzo and Associates are currently managing the project in an active and adaptive program.

“We have worked in 14 states and manage hundreds of properties for the long term,” says Pizzo. “Our guard is always up as the invasive species are always trying to invade.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects when entries open in February 2023.