Landscape water management is a problem in many communities, but there are solutions. Some of these solutions can begin right on your own property. Here is a brief explanation of the problem and three solutions that you can use to set an example for sound water management in your neighborhood.
Besides the visual insult of gallons of water pouring down a storm drain, there are immediately damaging effects to natural water systems in your area. The quality of water in local lakes, streams, rivers and creeks is compromised by the level of contamination from rain runoff that is allowed to flow freely into these water supplies.
Trash, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, grease and unhealthy bacteria flow freely from rooftops, across parking lots, and down streets, where they are flushed down a storm drain. While it might be next to impossible to divert 100% of this runoff into useable retention systems, individual properties are the best place to start.
In an ideal situation, every home could be responsible, to some degree, for handling at least a portion of their property's rainwater runoff. Waiting until a neighbor decides to do the right thing will make it difficult for positive results to be realized.
Even a simple rain garden in your own yard could be the impetus that triggers a more environmentally conscious water management model in your community. Rain chains, rain gardens and green roofs are three simple bio-retention systems that you can start with at your home.
- Rain Chains
A simple starter project that handles water runoff from your house roof through your gutters and downspouts are rain chains. Rain chains are a decorative alternative to downspouts, with a portion of this water easily transferred along basic drip irrigation lines.
Rain chains are also decorative and slow the pouring of rainwater through your downspouts that can be responsible for soil erosion. Rain chains will deflect water from your gutters and allow it to trickle into planting areas, or be gently absorbed by your lawn.
- Rain Gardens
A small rain garden can reclaim over a half a gallon of water per square foot. The design is relatively simple, with a flat bottom pond surrounded by native species of plant material that can handle consistently damp conditions. As you move farther away from the rain garden center, there can be a more diverse array of plants.
You have various choices for how the water is filtered back into the ground around the garden. Places along the sides can be designed to be porous, allowing the water, once it reaches a certain height, to bleed slowly into the surrounding soil, hydrating the plant material just outside the rain garden. You can also install a very basic filtration system with a small pump attached that feeds irrigation lines to other planted areas in your landscape.
- Green Roofs
Green roofs are a little more involved than the two previous types of water retention systems, but are certainly a viable consideration for the future of water management. There are some structural considerations that need to be carefully inspected before you consider if any portion of your roof might make for a viable spot for a green roof.
Landscape designers who specialize in green roof options are skilled in knowing if there is a part of your home that might prove feasible. Even small corner planter boxes, fixed at places on your roof that already sufficiently supported points, can be a nice place to start.
Most often these can be filled with climate and water tolerant types of vines, or ground cover, that as it grows will add a majestic since of foliage to spots on your home. Since the green roof concept is a more involved water management system, a small project incorporated with either of the two previous solutions can boost the percentage of water reclamation you are personally responsible for.
No matter how large or small a piece of property you have, using a bio-retention system can be an excellent way to show your ecological awareness by helping to improve your community's water management objectives. A landscape professional that specializes in water management services and irrigation can steer you in the right direction so you can be a role model in this environmentally conscious purpose.