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Good Steward Post

Storm Water Drainage Solutions with Native Plants

My least favorite thing about heavy storms is when streets flood, making driving conditions hazardous. During one storm, the rainfall was so heavy that a sewage drain couldn’t keep up so an entire intersection near the apartment I lived in flooded. Not only was it dangerous to drive through, we had to drive an alternate route to get home. Even worse, in some areas homes frequently experience water seeping into their basement or crawlspaces. Constant moisture in these spaces can result in mold problems – negatively impacting inhabitants’ health.

According to the EPA, 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water runoff enter our water ways every year. Aging drainage infrastructure and expanding urban areas makes managing heavy storm water difficult. In Will County, Illinois there are over 250,000 homes. Assuming each home has a 1,700 square foot roof, that equates to 265 million gallons of water runoff during every rain event of 1”! Note, that’s not even including commercial buildings, roads, or parking lots.

During heavy storms excess chemicals from roadways enter our local waterways polluting the aquatic ecosystems. Excess herbicides and pesticides from home gardens also enter these waterways – harming microfauna organisms keeping these ecosystems healthy. Additionally, excess fertilizers accumulate in river deltas causing algae blooms. When these algae blooms die off, microbes decomposing the organic matter uses the oxygen in the water resulting in hundreds of dead fish. Environmentally, this can be a huge problem.

Fortunately, there are solutions for homeowners. Rain gardens can be installed off gutters of homes to help. Native plants with extensive root systems absorb this water like a sponge before it can accumulate in roads or basements. The low-maintenance nature of native plants means no pesticides or herbicides are required. As a bonus, native plants don’t need fertilization. Not only can homeowners use plants to absorb all this excess water, they can also help reduce pollution by using plants which don’t need chemicals for maintenance.

Another feature homeowners may add to their garden is a rainwater harvesting system. By adding a water basin by a downspout, homeowners can capture rainwater for later use in their garden beds. For the Cadillac of water basins, homeowners can use the water basin of their water feature to capture water from their roof. This chemical-free Living Water can then be used in the garden as it naturally contains fertilizers. These are especially popular for those with veggie gardens! To learn more about adding a water feature to your garden, read our article “Landscaping with Living Water”.

If you are looking for a rain garden installation, or generic drainage solutions, I encourage you to read more about how our company landscapes with keeping wildlife in mind here. If you like what you read, visit our services page, then send us an email!

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