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Rain garden pointers

Rain Garden Diagram

SLOW IT, SPREAD IT, SINK IT

Improving stormwater management on your property can help to improve drainage; lower risk of flooding, basement infiltration, and erosion; enhance the look; and improve the health of streams, rivers and lakes.  Here are seven tips on how to better management stormwater on your property: 

1. Increase green space

You can increase the amount of green space around your home by planting more vegetation such as native trees.  There are multiple ways that trees reduce stormwater. Tree reduce stormwater runoff by capturing and storing rainfall in the canopy and releasing water into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. Tree roots and leaf litter create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil. This helps to replenish our groundwater supply and maintain streamflow during dry periods. Trees also helps to slow down and temporarily store runoff, which further promotes infiltration, and decreases flooding and erosion downstream.  As another bonus, trees also reduce pollutants by taking up nutrients and other pollutants from soils and water through their roots, and by transforming pollutants into less harmful substances.

 2. Build a rain garden

Rain gardens are small, landscaped areas that capture, filter and infiltrate rainwater. Rain gardens can create an attractive detention area where runoff can slowly soak into the ground, be taken up by plants and return to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. Rain gardens allow at least 30% more water to infiltrate into the ground compared to a conventional lawn.  To learn more about building a rain garden on your property, check out this guide: Rain Gardens

 3. Install a rain barrel

Rain barrels, sometimes called cisterns, are aboveground water storage vessels.  They capture rain runoff from a building’s roof using the gutter and downspout system. Rain barrels with a drainage valve can store water for use between rain events. When the valve is opened, the water empties out slowly, thus reducing runoff and increasing infiltration.  Rain barrels help to divert water from storm drain systems and thus reduce pollutants and the velocity of water entering local rivers and streams; Store high quality water for gardens; direct overflow water away from building foundations to more desired locations; and reduce water and sewer bills, as well as electrical bills from sump pump usage.

 4. Bioswale

Also known as "infiltration swales", "filter strips", or "grassed swales", bioswales are open vegetated channels specifically designed to attenuate and treat stormwater runoff for a defined water volume. Like open ditches, they convey larger stormwater volumes from a source to a discharge point, but unlike ditches, they intentionally promote slowing, cleansing and infiltration along the way. A sloped base to facilitate this water movement distinguishes bioswales from rain gardens. Because they behave like a gutter, these trenches are best suited along roadsides or parking lots. 

5.  Keep it clean

Stormwater picks up litter, sand, bacteria, oil,and other chemicals as it flows over the land, and it carries these pollutants to our water bodies. Runoff from paved surfaces, such as roads. parking lots, and rooftops, may contribute large amounts of polluted stormwater. Simply by putting fewer pollutants on the land, stormwater will been cleaner as it flows into our water bodies. Some tips include using a commercial car wash that treats and/or recycles the wash water, maintain your car to prevent fluid leaks, NEVER pour or sweep anything down a storm drain, and limit herbicide, pesticide and fertilizer use on lawns. 

 6. Redirect or disconnect your downspout

Sometimes downspouts are connected to standpipe that moves water directly into the stormwater system, or the downspout empties water onto your lawn or paved surface. Downspout disconnection refers to the rerouting of rooftop drainage pipes to drain rainwater to vegetated areas of your property such as rain gardens or wet ponds or to specifically design collection areas (e.g., rain barrels, cisterns). Downspout disconnection stores stormwater for future use and/or allows stormwater to infiltrate into the soil, or evaporate. 

7. Replace and avoid hardscapes

Permeable pavement, also known as pervious or porous paving, is designed to allow percolation or infiltration of stormwater through the surface into the soil below where the water is naturally filtered and pollutants are removed or removed by a subsurface drain. Permeable pavement can be used instead of standard asphalt and concrete for surfacing sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, and many types of road surfaces. Standard asphalt and concrete are considered to be “impermeable.”