In the last few years we have experienced record rainfall events. While rainfall (otherwise known as stormwater) is a natural occurrence, unfortunately our environment is not always in a “natural” state. In other words, we have developed areas such as roads, sidewalks, roof tops, parking lots and other impervious surfaces where stormwater does not have a chance to soak down into our soil. This stormwater becomes runoff and picks up pollutants from our lawns and streets (examples - vehicle emissions, oil residue, grass clippings, pesticides, leaves, and pet waste) and enters our lakes and streams by way of storm drains thus causing water pollution and impairments within our local bodies of water.
Stormwater runoff is the number one threat to our water quality according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. How can we help? Below are some simple management ideas that could be implemented within the landscape to help store and clean some of this stormwater thus lessening the amount of water entering our stormwater sewer systems.
Utilizing Rain Barrels
Rain barrels connect to downspouts to collect rain water. The collected water can then be used to water gardens, and be used as grey water for washing outdoor items. Water collected from rain barrels is not for human consumption, however. Some of the other benefits of rain barrels include:
Creating a Rain Garden
Rain gardens are a unique feature that can be added to the landscape and is disguised as a flower garden. They have many benefits that include: providing wildlife habitat, providing nectar and pollen sources for pollinators, transforming rainfall runoff into a resource rather than a nuisance, and improving storm water quality as it is infiltrated and redistributed through soils.
Rain gardens are purposefully located to maximize the amount of stormwater runoff that flows into the garden rather than off the property. It is important to note that it is not just a garden bed. Garden size, depth, slope, soil amendments and drainage all need to be considered before putting a shovel into the ground.
Plants that thrive in your landscape and in southwest Ohio should be considered. Native plants are good choices because they tend to offer more benefits to pollinators and have better survivability in native soils.
To help prepare your rain garden’s site, check out the following resources:
Before putting any of these water management strategies into place, please check local ordinances to make sure you understand what is allowable. For more questions regarding rain barrels and rain gardens, contact us! 513-695-1337.
Warren County SWCD Staff Blog
A blog to keep you informed on all the latest news at Warren County SWCD and in the conservation world.