A medley of flow-through planters

National Holistic Institute, 59th and Doyle, Emeryville. Map
Mt. Diablo Recycling Center, 1300 Loveridge, Pittsburg. Map
Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland. Map

Flow-through planters are essentially plumbed planter boxes designed to filter pollutants from runoff but not let water spread out or soak into soil. They are useful in a variety of conditions:

  • where space is tight
  • where groundwater is very high
  • where underlying soil is very impermeable
  • where wetting the ground might lead to slides or damage from expansion and contraction
  • where the runoff might contaminate groundwater, either because of its own pollution or because of pollution in the underlying soil.
  • This page shows a variety of such uses.

    Roof runoff flows to narrow flow-through planters, part of retrofit.Roof leader takes runoff to narrow flow-through planter

    National Holistic Institute, an Emeryville massage school, retrofitted an existing building. Roof runoff flows to narrow flow-through planters, above. Parking runoff gets somewhat more space, below. Click images to enlarge.

    Below: Mt. Diablo Recycling Center in Pittsburg is a sea of concrete, but a recent building addition at the transfer station channels roof runoff into a narrow flow-through planter.
    Runoff from transfer-station addition at Diablo Recycling goes to narrow flow-through planter.

    Below: At at new classroom building in a highly urbanized area in Oakland, Temple Sinai used a variety of means to treat runoff pollution. Below, roof runoff goes to a flow-through planter.
    Flow-through planter treats runoff from classroom buildingGrill looks like any street tree, but this one is in a flow-through planter.With little space and no way to use plantings, a sand filter treats runoff.
    Left, a street tree that looks like any other has its roots in special media that filters runoff. Above, a sand filter intercepts runoff from the parking lot at a downhill entrance where no planting is possible.