Step 6 Reduce Stormwater Runoff


Storm water runoff occurs when heavy rain quickly runs off solid surfaces, washing away chemicals and sediments. Pollutants like chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides can flow into nearby waterways and into the ground, where we get our drinking water. By design, the kinds of landscape techniques and materials used in NatureScape yards lessens the amount of pollutants and storm water that leave the property.

Swale areas

Swales are the built contours in between homes and alongside driveways and sidewalks. Swales are designed to collect stormwater runoff, filter pollutants and increase rainwater infiltration. Ponding water in your swale means that it is working! The vegetation in swales filters sediments, heavy metals, oils, and grease as the water seeps into the ground. Properly maintained swales help distribute rainfall, alleviate flooding, and allow ponding water to soak back into the ground slowly, recharging our drinking water supply.

Swales require regular maintenance in order to work properly:

  • Never fill or pave swales.
  • Keep swales planted with sod properly mowed.
  • Consider replacing sod with native ornamental grasses, groundcovers and wildflowers to create a bioswale.
  • Small trees and shrubs may be planted on the sides of swales. 
  • Keep swales clear of garbage, leaves, or other debris. 

Pretty PavingIt is important to know that by "saving the swales" you are protecting water quality. Keep in mind that the water in your swale or yard today, may be your drinking water tomorrow. Protect it.

Impervious surface alternatives

That's a fancy phrase for using construction materials that allow water to soak into the ground. NatureScapes reduce stormwater runoff by using some of these common sense landscaping techniques:

  • Whenever possible, use bricks, gravel, turf block, mulch, pervious concrete or other porous materials for walkways, driveways or patios. These materials allow rainwater to seep into the ground, help filter pollutants and reduce the amount of runoff from your yard.
  • Mulching pathways and flowerbeds will trap water and allow it to seep in.
  • Correct irrigation keeps the right amount of water on the lawn and out of the storm drain. 

 Landscaping on the Waterfront          

Waterfront property owners know how lakes, ponds, rivers and canals enhance the quality of life. They also have a special responsibility to contribute to the water quality of those waterways. The boundary between land and water, the littoral zone, may be a natural edge or a manmade seawall. This zone must be completely protected from fertilizers, pesticides, mowing and pet waste. The right native plant population in this zone will prevent erosion, slow runoff, filter contaminants, and provide habitat for wildlife. For more information on landscaping techniques for waterfront property, contact NatureScape Broward for a copy of the  Landscaping-on-the-Edge (PDF) brochure. Allow swales to collect water to control flooding.

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