Henderson Boathouse Yard Undergoing Renovation
Nobody wants tire tracks and puddles in front of a boathouse; it’s supposed to be a well-functioning area that keeps the boats safe and the river clean. That’s why the Henderson boathouse yard, the space that Northeastern leases for the rowing teams on the Charles, is getting renovated.
The current front lawn is reinforced with an underground webbing, but it was laid too deep when it was installed. The six to eight inches of soil on top of the webbing allow tires to sink in and cause ruts when boats are being delivered. The area also doesn’t drain very well because the elevation isn’t much higher than the river and the soil is heavy clay.
Steve Schneider, Director of Horticulture and Grounds for Northeastern, and Horsley Witten, an environmental engineering company, are creating a multifaceted approach to solving these problems.
The bulk of the project involves installing a new front lawn that includes three types of surfaces. The first consists of porous pavers creating a pathway up to the front of the boathouse. Unlike normal pavers that are installed tightly up against each other, these ones have tabs that leave space in between them. This will allow water to drain through instead of sheeting off. Clean crushed stone and then the pavers will be set on top of land that is carefully graded so the water drains to rain gardens and recharges groundwater.
The second surface will be installed outside the main pathway and will be a checkerboard of square cement pavers and soil. The soil squares will allow grass to grow and the cement will reinforce that grass so people can drive on it without creating ruts.
The third surface will be on the edges of the property and will be a grass turf reinforced with underground webbing, similar to what was there before. This time, the webbing will be installed closer to the surface so the ground can withstand the occasional vehicle.
A new rain garden is also a big part of the project to help with drainage. Instead of a retention or detention pond which would serve only to hold stormwater, a rain garden takes it a step further. “The plants actually act as part of the filtration process for cleaning the water,” Schneider said. “The city of Boston is using rain gardens more and more because you can have many of them that are relatively small. They’re cleaning up the stormwater and the runoff at the source point, as opposed to corralling and piping it all into one big space and then attempting to clean it, which never really works well.”
The project also includes building a formal parking lot and a bit of ecological restoration by the riverbank. “We’re going to be removing some invasive species under the direction of the Conservation Commission and replanting with natives,” Schneider said.
The goal is to have this project complete before the Head of the Charles which takes place in October. It will be a major upgrade to the entire area around Henderson and will benefit those who use the boathouse as well as the environment around it.
Written by Adam Doucette – 6/24/2022