Butterflies abound in the park. Photo credit: Etienne Frossard.

Path Location: 19

Fresh Water Gardens

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s landscape is a sophisticated collection of interconnected yet diverse ecosystems that contain many plants native to our region. Plants were selected for their salt and wind tolerance and for their minimal long-term management needs – qualities appropriate for the park’s waterfront site. The plant beds are dynamic spaces, and will evolve over time into complex and beautiful plant communities.

Beautiful – and Sustainable

The Freshwater Gardens, located at Pier 1, are among the most unique garden beds in Brooklyn. They not only provide a lush natural beauty, but also collect and filter rainwater for reuse in the park’s irrigation system. Beneath the park’s greenway lies a network of stormwater storage tanks with a combined capacity of 104,000 gallons. The runoff is used to irrigate the park’s lawns, trees, and plantings. Based on the size of the tanks and the annual cycles of wet and dry seasons, it is estimated that collected water will soon supply the majority of Pier 1’s yearly irrigation needs.

The park’s lawns, meadows, hedgerows, wetlands, salt marshes, and trees are managed organically, with environmentally-conscious practices. The gardens contain many plants that were common prior to European development and that evolved with local wildlife.

Home to Diverse Animal Life

The absence of chemicals and the inclusion of native plant habitats ensure that the gardens are a healthy environment for all visitors, including birds, butterflies, turtles, and even the microscopic soil organisms that keep the park’s plants healthy.

The Freshwater Gardens are a favorite of the park’s growing butterfly and migratory bird populations, as the flowers and fruiting shrubs provide abundant habitat. Incorporating these critical ecological spaces into our cities can help protect biodiversity.