ALTERNATIVE HOME AND LANDSCAPE DESIGN

For centuries, humans have developed roads and buildings without taking very much consideration for how they impact local rivers, lakes, and groundwater aquifers. Over the past few decades and even more so in the past few years, there has been a lot of motivation for communities to address these negative impacts. People are doing this by making small and inexpensive but highly effective renovations.

Green RoofYou often hear how homeowners want to make their yards more environmentally friendly. There are many ways in which that can be done. Reducing the amount of impermeable surfaces is one of the most effective ways of reducing impact. Roofs, sidewalks, driveways, and other paved surfaces are all impermeable which prohibits rainwater from infiltrating into the ground. This water rapidly runs to the storm drains carrying harmful contaminants with it.

Permeable PavementRemoving impermeable surfaces is a good way to reduce runoff. Homeowners can turn paved foot paths and driveways into dirt or gravel paths. If having a gravel driveway is not appealing to you, permeable pavement is a good option. Permeable pavement allows water to soak through into the ground making water available to recharge groundwater aquifers and reduce runoff into the storm drains. Slightly separating stones for foot paths can also allow water to seep into the ground more naturally.

Natural LandscapingYou can create natural areas in your landscape that require little maintenance and also absorb more rain water than a lawn. Use low-maintenance ground cover plants, natural mulch materials, native plant materials, and other landscaping techniques. A natural area can also serve as a rain garden where there is a greater flow of rain water to be absorbed. For more information on rain gardens, see Rain Gardens.

Rain BarrelAnother way to reduce storm runoff is by using rain barrels to collect rain that falls on your roof. Water collected here can be used to water your lawn and garden. This not only puts storm water to good use keeping potential hazards out of the lakes and rivers, but it also saves you money on your water bill. Rain barrels can be purchased at any hardware store for between $70 and $200 depending on the size.

On top of using natural pavement and rain barrels, you can easily reduce the level of harm you have on rivers and lakes by reducing the amount of hazardous chemicals you use and cleaning up after your pet. Many harmful chemicals we use can be replaced with less harmful chemicals. That way, when a rainstorm does come around and water washes into the storm drains, there will be less harmful chemicals reaching the river.

Pet waste is important to properly dispose of as well since there are harmful pathogens. For more information on pet waste and what you can do to take care of it, see Water Friendly Pet Waste Disposal.

For more information about alternative lawn and landscape design, see the following web sites:

Carolina Clear's YardStick Workbook shows you how to create attractive and healthy yards by working with South Carolina's environment, rather than against it. Covers lawn and landscape design, installation and maintenance from A-Z! - YardStick Workbook.

Clemson Cooperative Extension Service Creating an Environmentally Responsible Landscape

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Low Impact Development (LID) green infrastructure information including bioretention facilities, rain gardens, vegetated rooftops, rain barrels, and permeable pavements.

Low Impact Development (LID) Urban Design Tools Website

Commercial green roof contractor: LiveRoof Green Roof Systems

Southeastern Concrete Products (803 771-0093) is a licensed manufacturer for the PaveDrain permeable articulating concrete block/mat system.

Any mention of commercial products is for information only; it does not imply recommendation or endorsement by Gills Creek Watershed Association.
Revised 02-19-2012.
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