Landscaping for Water Quality

Michigan is fortunate to have an abundance of high quality lakes and streams that
everyone can benefit from for swimming, boating, fishing, drinking water or simply
enjoying. When rainwater falls on a natural site, the vegetation and soils absorb and collect it. When rainwater falls on a man-made surface like a parking lot or roof top, it quickly runs off of it into storm drains and drainage ditches. While proper drainage is needed to protect your home from water damage, the water picks up fertilizer, sediment, pesticides, and other pollutants, rapidly carrying them into waterways as it runs off of your property. Eventually, these waterways connect to lakes, streams, wetlands, rivers, and other bodies of water that can be harmed by these pollutants.

Water quality in the lakes and streams in your area can be improved by incorporating simple landscape features designed to collect and treat run-off water.

There are many different landscape designs that exist today but are they protecting water quality? Are they intercepting as much water as they could?

Cities are already beginning to experience severe flooding, and with annual precipitation predicted to increase in the Midwest as a result of climate change, it is vital we tackle this issue head on. So, why are native plants and trees the answer? Research and case studies have shown that a single large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the atmosphere (evapotranspiration) in a day. Native plants have deep root systems, which means they can tolerate periods of drought by extending their roots deeper into the ground to access water. They can also absorb excess water when needed.

Rain gardens are also a way you can help improve water quality. A rain garden is an area created to collect run-off water with a coarse or porous soil mixture of sand or gravel beneath a bed of native plants. Run-off water collects in the rain garden, soaks quickly
into the soils, or is absorbed by the plants in the garden.

If you would like to learn more about landscape designs you can implement at home, take a look at the Landscaping-for-Water Quality Guide. 

Image result for rain garden

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