Raleigh Landscaping Homeowners Can Help Protect NC’s Water Quality & Natural Resources
By: Lynne Harder
Stormwater runoff (rain or snowmelt that runs off of impervious surfaces) has been identified as a leading source of water pollution in the United States. Stormwater runoff is largely attributable to the increase in impervious surfaces (driveways, rooftops, decks, etc.) associated with urbanization which alters the natural landscape so that it can no longer carry out the natural functions of infiltration and pollutant removal.
Rain that runs off of these hard surfaces carries many pollutants, including fertilizer, sediment, heavy metals, bacteria, gasoline and oil. Ultimately, these pollutants end up in our state’s waters threatening North Carolina’s marine life, as well as human health. Studies show that stormwater runoff has a direct effect on our state’s water quality and is one of the leading causes of degraded water. Many practices have been introduced and used to alleviate some of the affects of stormwater runoff. Rain gardens, also known as bioretention areas, are one of these sustainable practices.
Benefits of Rain Gardens Include:
- Pollution filtration
- Flood Prevention
- Improve drinking water quality
- Enhance Infiltration & Stabilize Soils
- Recharge groundwater supply
- Provide Habitat and Food for Wildlife
- Enhance the beauty of individual yards & communities
Rain Garden Design:
- The rain garden is a depression that holds water temporarily and slowly releases it into the soil
- Designed to capture & filter stormwater runoff that comes from the surrounding impervious surfaces
- Located between the source of runoff (roofs & driveways) & the runoff destination (drains, low spots, etc.)
- Attractive landscaped areas planted with native perennials that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions
Trees and shrubs that are planted in the rain garden need to be water tolerant as opposed to water loving. Yet, they also need to be able to tolerate brief periods of drought. Rain gardens/bioretention areas can be built in different soil types and can be installed in various locations. The size and design of the garden depend on the area that drains to it and the soil type. It is important to choose plants that are native to the area. Plantings can include large and small trees, shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, and sedges and rushes.
Sustainable landscape practices in Raleigh Landscaping and the Triangle area help protect us and our neighbors downstream…… all the way to the coast!