Lake Agawam’s south shore bioswale came to life on June 26th, 2020 thanks to LAC’s partnership with the Southampton Town Trustees, Piazza Horticultural and the Southampton Fire Department. The Town Trustees provided the land, LAC contributed the funds thanks to a very generous donor, Piazza Horticultural created the design, sourced the plants and did the installation work, and the Fire Department stepped in at the end of the day to water the 7,000 square foot site.

The south shore bioswale is a beautiful buffer composed of water-cleansing native plants that stretch along the south shore of the lake between the parking lot and the bulkhead. Vegetated buffers like this are nature’s own remedy to water pollution. Plants divert and capture storm run-off, then cleanse it of pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorous, bacteria, and viruses, before the runoff reaches the water-table. Bioswales also reduce the flooding that we so often see in the Gin Lane parking lot after a rainfall.

Nitrogen and phosphorous are the two key nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. This planting includes a mixture of low growing shrubs, flowering plants and grasses that have historically thrived in this site thanks to their resilience to extremes of sea spray, wind, drought and downpours.

As the recent rainfalls have shown, these plants have also effectively functioned as a bioswale – which is green infrastructure that intercepts and filters sediment and toxins out of road runoff- when water from the parking lot collects and runs into the buffer.

To make this buffer a year-round beauty, Tony Piazza chose an assortment of shrubs, grasses and wildflowers that will flourish alternately in all four seasons. The perennials include Swamp Milkweed and Buttonbush for early summer blooms. Winter Berry will be covered with red berries all winter. The ocean friendly grasses are Northern Sea Oats and Panicum, while the wildflowers include Seaside Goldenrod for fall color, and 400 Swamp Mallow Hibiscus plants, whose blooms has become an iconic symbol of late summer in Southampton Village. Swamp milkweed will attract butterflies in the fall.

The planting will nurture an ecosystem that will provide nesting places and food for birds, flowers for native bees and habitat for diverse insects.

This project will also raise public awareness of crucial issues of water quality and wildlife loss, serve as an example of a buffer zone plantings for water front properties and as an educational resource for our community.

We hope that this bioswale will be the first in a series that LAC installs throughout Southampton in partnership with the Town and Village Trustees and community. If you are interested in learning about future sites and how to support them, please reach out to us at