One of the greatest clean water challenges for Georgia homeowners is dealing with storm water runoff pollution. Not only can storm water runoff pollute our drinking water, waterways, streams, and aquatic ecosystems, but it can also contribute to flooding and water shortages by affecting groundwater. You can do your part in reducing some of these issues by making some improvements to your home. Continue reading these tips from the pros at Bardi to learn how to protect your home from storm water runoff.
How to Reduce Your Own Runoff Production
Before protecting your home from storm water runoff, there are measures you can take to reduce the level of runoff you produce. To keep from contributing more to runoff pollution, consider some of these tips:
Clean Your Car at a Car Wash
While keeping your favorite car clean and shiny may be a top priority, opt for cleaning it at a car wash, instead of in the street or your driveway. This is important because the soapy water you use to wash your car is runoff that can contribute to the storm water runoff that may invade your house later. This is a simple way to reduce the amount of runoff you create.
Pick Up After Your Dog
Not only is this a golden rule for being a courteous neighbor, but it is an easy habit to adopt to reduce your contribution to runoff pollution in your area. Pick up after your dog to keep harmful fecal bacteria from contaminating water supplies and aquatic ecosystems.
Make Your Property a Litter-Free Zone
It should go without saying that nobody likes a litterbug. Litter can easily make its way into our aquatic ecosystems through storm drains. This trash can harbor bacteria biofilms that encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep your property litter-free to avoid contributing to runoff pollution.
Minimize Your Use of Toxic Pesticides and Fertilizers
In a country where we already have problems with the existence of too many pesticides and other chemicals in our water, this is an important step you can take to help alleviate this problem. If you must use fertilizers or pesticides, use them sparingly, and make sure they stay on your lawn and out of the gutter. We also recommend staying away from RAID for ants and opting for a less toxic borax solution instead.
How to Protect Your Home from Storm Water Runoff
Upgrade and Maintain Your Gutter System
Gutters are integral to carrying rainwater away from your home. To keep your gutter system working efficiently, regularly clean them. You should also ensure your downspout is properly depositing the rainwater into the ground and away from your house’s siding, windows, doors, and foundation. To avoid clogs, you can add gutter guards to keep debris out and lengthen the life of your gutters.
Consider Using a Rain Barrel
Installing a rain barrel or cistern can be a multi-functional solution. You can collect the rainwater and put it to good use later for watering plants or your lawn on a sunny day. Directing your downspouts to a rain barrel or cistern will also help reduce the risk of having a soggy yard or flooded basement after rainstorms.
Direct Your Downspouts Back onto Your Garden
In order to keep rainwater from directly flowing into the sewer or into the street, you can direct your downspouts toward a vegetated area, like your garden or lawn. This is a simple way to re-purpose rainwater to keep your plants hydrated and help reduce runoff.
Use a Dutch Drain System
If you can’t think of many uses for the water, a rain barrel or cistern would collect, consider using a Dutch drain. Simply put, a Dutch drain is a barrel filled with gravel with holes at the bottom that are designed to slow the flow of water, allowing the ground to absorb it. This can be a good way to keep rainwater runoff from your home, while watering your lawn.
Minimize Surfaces on Your Property That Don’t Absorb Water
Surfaces around your home that are impervious to water absorption can allow pooling water and snow melt to become storm water runoff. You can prevent this from happening around your home by reducing the number of surfaces that do not absorb water. This can involve replacing concrete or asphalt with pavers, using paving stones or bricks for patios, or replacing all or a portion of your driveway with pavers.
Use Gravel Trenches to Slow Runoff
Once you have figured out where the impervious surfaces are around your driveway or patio, you can line the edges of these areas with gravel trenches. Not only will these trenches help slow and catch runoff, but they will provide an opening for water to seep into the soil.
Trade Your Lawn Grass for Native Plants
Because lawns are not as effective when it comes to absorbing and retaining water, more precipitation runs off them. Furthermore, this excessive water buildup can require a lot of irrigation, which only creates more runoff. To beat this vicious cycle, you can replace all or portions of your lawn with native plants, like shrubs are wildflowers. Because these plants usually develop more extensive root systems, they can take in and hold much more water than lawns. Also, they require much less maintenance than lawns.
Add Organic Matter to Your Soil
As a method to reduce runoff, you can add compost or mulch to your soil. Not only can these organic materials reduce runoff, but they will make your plants healthier and happier. We recommend spreading a 2-4-inch layer of your choice of organic material once a year.
Protect Your Soil
Bare soil can be almost as impervious to water as concrete. An alternative to planting vegetation on exposed soil patches can be covering it with mulch, gravel, or wood chips.
Just as the root systems of native plants can help soak up excess water, the even larger root system of trees can do the same. In addition to maintaining the trees you already have, you can plant more native trees for extra absorption. We recommend choosing native trees, because they are already well-adapted to your environment, and will stand the best chance of long-term survival.
Implement a Rain Garden
Typically planted at the base of a slope or outlet to a downspout, a rain garden collects water and allows it to gradually soak into the soil. For a lush, water-absorbing edition to your yard, fill your rain garden with a base of permeable soil enhanced with fertile loam. Add a topcoat of mulch to quicken the garden’s water absorption. Once you lay out the proper soil and top layer, plant water-loving plants and watch them flourish! Here is a list of some water-loving plants that are ideal for rain gardens:
- Cardinal Flower
- Black-Eyed Susan
- Swamp Milkweed
- Swamp Mallow
- Joe Pye Weed
- New England Aster
- Marsh Marigold
- Scarlet Bee Balm
- Spike Rush
- Prairie Blazing Star
Install Berms and Vegetated Swales
Another way to protect your home from rainwater runoff is by installing berms and swales to catch and redirect water toward a rain garden or storm drain. To slow runoff on steep slopes, build a berm, which is a slightly raised area. Then, dig a swale and plant it with grass or native plants to direct water away from your house and yard.
Let Bardi Help!
Now that you know how to protect your home from storm water runoff, you’re already halfway to a storm-ready house. However, for next-level protection against extreme weather, you should call a Bardi pro! Tackle all your household HVAC and plumbing needs by calling us today at 678-389-6268 or filling out a service request form on our website.