River Smart Homes

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 10:15pm

Last month, some of us attended a watershed stewardship workshop sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government. I was looking over my notes and thought I should share this information from the District Riversmart program. You can find out about their incentive program on-line at Riversmart Homes but even without the incentives, they have some really good tips for getting storm water into the ground. Don’t forget, Montgomery County also has an incentive program on-line at their rainscapes page.

So from the Riversmart web page, here are five things you can do on your property that can make a big difference!

Plant Large Shade Trees - Anyone who has taken shelter under a tree during a rainstorm knows that trees trap rainwater. The City is interested in planting large shade trees because they help reduce stormwater while helping to reduce air pollution and the urban heat island effect. Homeowners like them because they can reduce heating and cooling bills and they increase property values. Currently the DDOE and Casey Trees have teamed up to provide a $50 rebate for homeowners who plant large canopy trees.

Install Above Ground Cisterns - Above ground cisterns are also commonly called rain barrels. Cisterns are used to capture water from your rooftop and store it to be released at a time when it is not raining. Cisterns help reduce stormwater pollution by trapping stormwater rather than having it flow off your property. Homeowners like them because they can use the water to water their gardens or wash their car and save money on their water bills.

Replace Impervious Surfaces with Pervious Ones - Sidewalks, driveways, and patios are a major source of stormwater pollution. By replacing traditional asphalt and concrete with permeable or porous pavers you help allow water to infiltrate naturally into the soil, but most homeowners install them because they feel the paving stones are more attractive than traditional concrete.

Construct Rain Gardens - A rain garden is a low point in your yard where you deliberately direct stormwater. The soils in the garden are amended to allow water to rapidly infiltrate and special plants are installed that can tolerate getting their "feet" wet. The City likes these gardens because they infiltrate and treat stormwater naturally, but you'll love them because they allow you to plant interesting and beautiful plants that cannot tolerate drier conditions.

Bayscape Your Yard - Bayscaping is a fancy term for planting gardens beds with plants that are native to the Chesapeake Bay region. The City is promoting native landscaping because native plants have deeper roots and more complex above ground structures than grass and therefore they capture more rainwater than turf. You'll love your Bayscaping because it invites songbirds and butterflies by providing food (nectar and seed) and habitat for our animal friends!