Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, it’s never too late to look for ways to reduce your property’s environmental footprint. According to the EPA, storm water runoff is one of the greatest threats to clean water in the United States. You can make a difference by implementing simple landscaping tips to reduce storm water runoff and prevent water pollution.
Disconnect your downspout
By disconnecting your downspout from SD1’s sewer system, you can prevent excess storm water from entering the system and potentially redirect the water to an area for personal use.
To avoid undesired flooding when disconnecting your downspout, it is important to ensure your downspout will be directed to an area of your yard that can handle excess water. SD1 highly recommends installing a rain barrel or a rain garden to collect the excess water from your disconnected downspout. Always consult city and county ordinances first to ensure your downspout disconnection method will meet local requirements. Learn more about downspout disconnection.
Plant a rain garden
All gardens soak up rain and beautify our neighborhoods, but rain gardens are specifically designed to catch and slow storm water runoff. A rain garden is typically located in a low-lying area where water from your roof, driveway and other walkways can drain. The gardens include soil layers and native plants that filter rain as it soaks into the soil.
Before you start digging, consider how water works on your property during a rain storm. Does water pond or stream through your yard? Do you have a low-lying location to plant a rain garden? If so, check out SD1’s Disconnection, Redirection and Infiltration Program (DRIP) for step-by-step instructions on planting a rain garden.
Install a rain barrel
A rain barrel is a container that collects and stores storm water runoff from your roof. Typically this runoff would either enter the sewer system or discharge out onto your yard. Instead, rain barrels store this water for later use. A rain barrel can also reduce your water bill by using the rain water to water your yard or landscaping. Feeling creative? Learn how to paint your rain barrel for a fun project for the whole family.
Identify Pest Problems Before Spraying
Pesticides are pest-specific, know what you are up against before you treat! Knowing exactly what pest or disease plants are suffering from helps gardeners better eradicate the problem. Campbell, Kenton and Boone County Cooperative Extension Services offer FREE PLANT DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES to guide residents towards the most effective pest treatment options. Expert diagnosis ultimately saves gardeners time and money in treating the problem while reducing pesticide pollution.
Limit Fertilizer Use
Do your part and only fertilize when necessary. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer runoff contribute to the growth of algae. Some algae produce toxins that pose a threat to public health. When algae organisms die, the decomposition process depletes oxygen from the water killing some fish and aquatic life. Click here for more information about water quality, nutrient management and how to test your soil. Campbell, Kenton and Boone County Cooperative Extension Services offer free soil testing to county residents. Knowing your lawn and garden specific nutrient needs helps to avoid over-application of costly and unnecessary fertilizer.
Leave Grass Clippings Lay
Don’t bag it! Grass clippings provide up to 25% of a lawn’s annual nutrient needs. Leaving grass clippings lay provides a natural mulch that cools root zones and conserves soil moisture while providing a steady flow of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the lawn. It's like free fertilizer, cutting down on the need for an additional nutrient application, leading to runoff pollution. Also, never sweep grass into the street. Grass clippings may block storm drains and lead to other serious issues.
Cultivate small changes
Even if you can’t make big changes to your landscaping, there are several small things you can do to make a big difference to the environment.
- Use native grasses and plants in your landscaping.
- Store pesticides or fertilizers wisely.
- Pick up and properly dispose of litter and yard debris.
- Cover soil/sediment piles with a tarp.
- Always pick up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash.
Your landscaping doesn’t have to be elaborate to make a difference in the environment. Why not choose one or two tips from this article and apply them to your lawn to reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality.