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Hardscape Solutions: Rolling on the riverfront

March 8, 2021 -  By

Company: Ruppert Landscape
Location: Oklahoma City

Scissortail Park links the heart of Oklahoma City to the riverfront, so creating a site that attracts visitors and provides connectivity throughout the downtown area was one of the project’s primary goals.

The 40-acre park design features a great lawn and performance stage, a 3.7-acre lake, a children’s playground, an interactive fountain, ornamental gardens and woodlands, a dog park, a picnic grove, restaurants, recreational facilities and walking/jogging paths set with regionally specific native woodland and prairie landscapes.

To bring the project to fruition, Ruppert Landscape installed concrete flatwork; pavers; drainage pipe and stone; soil; sod; 1,000 trees; 70,000-plus perennials; 5,000 shrubs; 185,000 square feet of wildflower seed; 4,000 cubic yards of mulch; and a pond-fed irrigation system that included more than 25,000 sprayheads and a dual turbine pump that sends 600 gallons of water per minute out into the site. On average, Ruppert had 60 people on the site between summer 2017 and September 2019, but at peak production, it had upward of 100 crew members on-site.

Coordinating with other trades and battling excessive heat and rainfall proved to be major challenges of the project, according to Adam Bennett, branch manager for Ruppert’s Atlanta landscape construction branch.

“Oklahoma City experienced significant amounts of rainfall, which created massive mud challenges,” Bennett says. “This sticky clay and mud mixture was several feet deep in places. When possible, crews were diverted to work in safer, less muddy areas.”

Additionally, heavy equipment was fitted with wide track shoes. Mud mats and gravel were used in other areas. To mitigate the amount of time crews spent in the heat, deliveries were scheduled for very early morning.

“During the entire month of August 2018, we would receive two tractor-trailer loads of trees a day (each load containing 30 trees), that were unloaded, planted, staked and watered before lunch to minimize the potential for heat-related illnesses,” Bennett says.

The project won Ruppert Landscape a 2020 Silver Award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

The overall design of Scissortail Park prioritizes landscape design as an important element in place-making. Distinctive and welcoming landscape elements — including beautiful plantings that celebrate the seasons, and quality materials and furnishings — identify the park as a special place.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

The project is overflowing with a mix of nearly 75,000 shrubs, perennials and groundcover. In total, 124 varieties were used to create impactful and overflowing displays.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

Excessive rain turned the project’s dense, clay soil into a mud pit during installation. A series of drainage layers and pro-root soil mixes, with profiles ranging from 12 inches to 60 inches, were installed to create a sustainable landscape. Seven soil profiles — including fiber reinforced, sandy loam, structural topsoil and bio soil for wetland plantings — were used throughout the site.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

More than 4,000 truckloads of soil were installed on site. Grading of this massive 40-acre site required skid-steers, loaders and small bull dozers as well as sheep’s foot rollers, tamping rollers, round rollers and vibrating plate tampers.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

Creating the final contour and achieving precise ground elevations and slopes were critical for site’s drainage — all of which had to be tied into an urban street water drainage network. In total, 22,000 linear feet of drainage pipe, 120 drainage junction boxes and more than 8,000 tons of drainage stone was installed on the site. What you see in this photo is indicative of what occurred over this entire 40-acre site.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

This photo was taken soon after the turf was installed. As part of that installation, over 1500 pounds of geofibers were blended into the soil (the lighter color turf areas in center of ellipse) in some high-traffic areas to help reinforce the root-zone and ensure long-term survivability of these areas, which are prone to compaction. In total, over nine acres of Bermudagrass sod was installed on this site.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

Ten people installed this 4.4-acre great lawn area in just a half days’ time — creating a great outdoor space for impromptu recreation and outdoor concerts. The team worked through a compressed schedule to ensure the project’s on-time completion in time to host a record- setting crowd of 28,000 people who attended the opening night concert, which featured Kings of Leon.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

135,000 square feet of concrete flatwork and 160,000 square feet of pavers crisscross the site — helping to ensure its walkability and connectivity. Here, a portion of the granite band (8,500 square feet throughout the site) and decomposed granite areas creates a juxtaposition of color and texture.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

As a recipient of the EPA’s Greening America’s Communities Award that’s given to cities that support green infrastructure and sustainability, Oklahoma City continued this focus with Scissortail Park. Wetland areas within the project use plants that are well-adapted to the area’s hydrologic conditions. These plants include milkweed, reed grass, Joe-pye weed, juncus and nodding bulrush. They provide valuable habitats for plant and animal communities and serve as a natural filter for water flowing into connected water bodies and groundwater.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

Ruppert Landscape installed more than $652,000 worth of play features in this 3-acre playground, including Oklahoma-centric animals (a rubber-surface snake and a custom-built spider), a 40-foot fort tower, netscape climbing areas, a wheelchair-accessible sandbox and other kid-friendly activities. Due to some compression in the job’s sequencing, there were many trades all vying to install their piece of the playground area at the same time: electrical, irrigation, concrete, landscaping, playground equipment and safety surfaces were being installed simultaneously.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

As part of what was known as the “delegated design team,” which hinges on clear communication between parties at the start of the project, Ruppert was responsible for ensuring the safety and fall heights on every piece of equipment in the playground area. Each play piece had a different safety rating and requirement for safety surfacing under it, requiring the team to create detailed diagrams demonstrating thicknesses, transitions and fall zones and installing 20,000 square feet of rubberized play surfaces and 150 yards of engineered wood fiber throughout.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

The site offers a variety of environments that transition throughout the site – all reminiscent of the many ecosystems in Oklahoma. There are some that are sunny and dry and feature an open lawn, while others collect stormwater from the site, which is then stored in the lake and reused as irrigation.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

One thousand trees, ranging in size from 2-inch to 5-inch caliper, were installed throughout the site. With more than 45 varieties of trees on the site, many were selected to connect with the project’s Oklahoma roots including: Shumard oaks, lacebark elms, redbuds, eastern red cedar, hackberry, Western soapberry and bald cypress.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

More than 100 tons of boulders, 1,500 square feet of artificial turf, two pet watering fountains, and 355 tons of decomposed granite were used to create this multitiered dog play area. Boulders, which had an average weight of three tons, were installed using a skid loader.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

The park’s eco-friendly irrigation system uses reclaimed rainwater for its grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants. The irrigation system contains 186 zones, 86,800 linear feet of mainlines, 251,000 linear feet of laterals, and just over 25,000 sprayheads. The retention pond is outfitted with a dual turbine pump that sends 600 gallons of water per minute out into the site.

Hardscape project at Scissortail Park (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Photo: Ruppert Landscape

The landscape contractor installed more than $1.6 million worth site furnishings, including exercise equipment, bike racks, trash receptacles, furniture and benches — all designed to encourage community activities and use.

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor. She can be reached at swebb@northcoastmedia.net.

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