After receiving record-setting rainfall in many areas of the United States last week, and seeing raging creeks and rivers, the eroded streambanks and many flooded areas, it’s clear that home and business owners need to do something to help manage stormwater on their properties. The rain water that runs off impervious paved surfaces, and even lawns, causes numerous problems, from contaminating drinking water to environmental degradation. Read my previous post here on the subject.
The good news is that we can all do things that can reduce drainage issues on our properties and minimize runoff. These methods will also help your community to lower maintenance and construction costs associated with water treatment systems and flood control.
- PLANT TREES: Research reveals that evergreen Magnolia and Pine trees can intercept more than 4,000 gallons of rainfall per year, while a mature deciduous tree, such as Sweet Gum, can intercept 500-700 gallons per year! When raindrops fall on trees, much of the water is intercepted and stays on leaves and branches where it will fall to the ground slowly and be absorbed by the roots, or later evaporate. Trees planted in groves intercept even more! The Center for Watershed Protection prepared a very thorough pdf manual on the subject for the U.S. Forest Service, which you can read here.
- ADD RAINBARRELS: To capture and temporarily store rainwater, add rainbarrels to the downspouts on your home, garage, sheds and other buildings. These 55-gallon receptacles allow you to later use the stored rainfall to water lawns and gardens.
- BEAUTIFY WITH RAIN GARDENS: Rain gardens hold rain water, provide water to the plants inside it and allow the water to slowly infiltrate into the ground. Be sure to plant perennials, trees and shrubs that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. For more info, read my previous post here.
- REPLACE LAWN AREAS WITH PLANTINGS: Unlike short-rooted lawn grass, the deep roots of native plants allow water to infiltrate deep into the ground where it can replenish our depleted aquifers. For more info, read this previous post here.
- DETAIN RAINWATER WITH A DRY WELL: These stone-filled pits underground temporarily store stormwater until it infiltrates into the surrounding soil. Visit the Philadelphia Water Department here for details.
- OPT FOR POROUS OR PERMEABLE PAVERS for patios, walkways and plaza areas, which allow rainwater to infiltrate into the ground beneath.
- GO GREEN WITH A GREEN ROOF: These vegetated rooftops are gaining popularity for commercial and residential buildings that have relatively flat roofs. Green roofs allow rainwater to be absorbed by the plants and growing medium so it doesn’t runoff the roof. They also reduce the urban heat-island effect, and provide habitat for migratory and pollinator species, plus they last longer than traditional roofs.
- CAPTURE RUNOFF IN A CISTERN: These underground storage tanks hold stormwater and allow it to be used for irrigating lawns and gardens, and even toilet flushing in more advanced systems.
For more information and additional stormwater management solutions, please visit: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Philadelphia Water Department (for solutions that work around the country).
photo of Tennessee’s first green street courtesy of LandscapeOnline.com.