CLEAN WATER STARTS AT HOME
As development progresses across once undisturbed land, native plants are being bulldozed and destroyed.
Combined with the introduction of invasive plant species in many regions, this can have a devastating effect on the environment. Not only is the appearance of these natural areas degraded, but this has a detrimental effect on birds, bees, butterflies, other wildlife, and ultimately human beings.
Since indigenous insects cannot, or will not, eat alien plant species, their populations dwindle. As this integral food source for native birds and other animals disappears, the gaps in the food chain can become significant enough to lead to the extinction of various species.
So, what can the average person do? Incorporate native plants into your own backyard gardens. These plants and flowers provide a necessary link in the web of life. Another bonus is that they are typically easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes that is sure to add beauty to any landscape.
Rain barrels catch rain from roofs, storing water that can be used to care for lawns and gardens or even to wash your car. Although rain barrels alone do not account for a significant reduction of water due to their limited storage capacity, users are often more likely to consider other water efficient measures such as limiting lawn sprinkling and replacing older, water guzzling toilets or appliances.
Did you know that just 1/4 inch of rain on an average roof can fill a rain barrel? A good formula to remember: 1 inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof yields 623 gallons of water! Phew…that’s a lot!
You probably know that freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce due to pollution, misuse, overuse and climate change. As rain water flows down roofs and across driveways or other impervious surfaces, it can pick up any of the pollutants that have been deposited there. A rain garden is an attractive way to treat this runoff and show-off your gardening skills at the same time.
So when someone asks you “why plant a rain garden?” you can tell them that you are doing it to reduce pollution and preserve our water systems.
Increasing Pervious Surfaces
When it is time to pave or repave the driveway, consider using a material such as pavers or porous concrete to help increase filtration. This helps reduce runoff, recharges the groundwater, and filter pollutants.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Mulching is one of the most important ways to protect and maintain healthy landscaped plants, shrubs and flowers. Some of the uses for mulch are:
- it prevents weeds from coming through
- organic mulches add to the nutrient base of the soil making the soil richer
- helps to hold water and moisture in your plants and gardens
- helps the roots maintain an even temperature
- protects your soil from erosion
- adds to the aesthetic appeal of your landscape by making it look more finished
Using mulches reduces watering needs and helps keep your plants healthy. It also slows down stormwater run-off, helps stabilize open soil, and can help remove waterborne pollutants. There is a wide variety of mulch types available to satisfy any gardener’s landscaping needs.
Test That Soil
No IQ test needed here! Testing your soil periodically guarantees that you only add to the soil what it needs to help your plants grow. This helps reduce excess nutrient run-off and keeps your garden looking its best.
Keeping or adding native vegetation along sensitive resources such as wetlands, watercourses, or the coastline protects these areas from soil erosion, filters pollutants, maintains wildlife habitat, and keeps the water cooler (for fish).
Clean up after Rover
Pet waste, especially in fairly densely populated areas can add excess nutrients and bacteria to local surface and groundwater. Clean-up after your pet and dispose of it properly and help keep the water clean.
Here is a win-win deal! Don’t throw away all that yard waste and vegetable scraps. Turn it into a nutrient rich natural fertilizer for your garden. Compost bins are available at most garden centers or you can always build one yourself.
For more information on the Niantic River Watershed Protection Plan and homeowner solutions to non-point source pollution, view this presentation from the June 30th Homeowners Workshop.
For information on stormwater management, visit the following websites: