Manage Stormwater in Your Landscape

  This week's rain has brought out the buds on a serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) which sits just next to a gravel patio designed for permeability and stormwater absorption, and solar panels to reduce this home's reliance on fossil fuels.

 

This week's rain has brought out the buds on a serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) which sits just next to a gravel patio designed for permeability and stormwater absorption, and solar panels to reduce this home's reliance on fossil fuels.

 

As April begins and it finally feels like spring here in Pennsylvania, the impact of stormwater is becoming clearly present throughout landscapes. In large storms and flooding events, water runs across the many non-permeable surfaces of the developed world and carries pollutants like fertilizers, pesticides, trash, oil, grease, and metals into streams, rivers, and oceans. This stormwater also strips away soil and wildlife habitats as it surges through ecosystems. When creating environmentally friendly landscapes, considering stormwater management is of vital importance. By making a few changes that slow down water flowing across a landscape, land owners can make significant improvements in surrounding ecosystems, and reduce their home’s contribution to the pollution of our watersheds.

Ways to slow down that stormwater include downspout planters and rain gardens established in areas of concern that may arise in any landscape, from an expansive estate to a small urban backyard.

  • Downspout planters are connected to the roof downspout of a building to collect water, and filter it through ornamental plants, soil, and gravel. Downspout planters are aesthetically pleasing, as they can be filled with any water-loving plant, and they slow stormwater down as it runs off rooftops. 
  • Rain gardens are gardens planted slightly depressed from the rest of the landscape so that instead of running off into surrounding non-permeable surfaces, rainwater collects in these depressions planted with attractive greenery that absorbs and filters this excess water. Rain gardens can take many shapes and forms, and can be designed to fit in with any aesthetic, while providing an excellent functional component of the landscape.

A wider variety of options to take stormwater management to the next level exist, but taking a few small steps first is a great way to begin thinking about a landscape in the context of its surrounding ecosystems, something we at Refugia work to incorporate into all of our designs. 

Interested in learning more about stormwater management techniques to apply in your landscapes? Philadelphia Water, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Sustainable Business Network have put together a great website that provides information about stormwater programs going on throughout the city, tips for keeping your everyday activities low impact, and project ideas to make your home more stormwater friendly. Read more here.