Soak it Up
If we allow more rain to soak into the ground we can help our community reach acceptable levels of pollutants per day that enter the nearest water body to our homes. This will make it safer for swimming, improve fish habitat and drinking water quality downstream. At the same time, letting the water soak into the ground recharges the underground water storage in areas known as aquifers and protects valuable groundwater.
Plant Native Trees And Bushes
- Read about Naturescaping in the Region of Waterloo.
- Toronto’s LEAF program has a comprehensive list of species and instructions.
Native trees and bushes intercept stormwater, absorb water via the roots, and provide habitat for native animals. Like all plants, species must be chosen carefully to suit water availability, soil conditions, salt and pollution tolerance and should be planted with the mature size in mind. Choosing the right tree or shrub for the right place will minimize maintenance requirements and ensure that it will thrive.
If you are not interested in featuring plants in an area that will soak water into the ground, you can simply dig a pit, fill it with washed gravel and fill to be level with the ground. Downspout pipes can dump water into these pits to encourage water to filter into the ground. These are great to pair with rain barrels as their overflow pipes can be directed to these pits. Also, when rain barrels are removed during the winter,re-attached downspout water can flow into them, minimizing the amount of water flowing into stormsewers and into our rivers.
Build a Rain Garden
A rain garden is a planted depression that collects rainwater runoff from hard surfaces like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas and allows it to soak into the ground and recharge the aquifer. The next time you’re planning a new garden bed or landscaping your yard consider using this method to protect water quality in your nearest lake or river.
The Rain Garden at REEP House was sited down slope and 10 feet away from the house to prevent any water coming back into the house. It sits beside the permeable paving driveway and thereby ensures that any overflow will be absorbed. It is roughly 5 metres long and 2 metres wide with a washed pea gravel material below the surface that extends about 50cm into the ground.
In an afternoon, volunteers dug and filled the pit. Carefully selected plants that can tolerate high moisture levels as well as drought were placed in the bed in order to provide additional water absorption, wildlife habitat and changing seasonal beauty. The rain garden receives downspout and sump pump water as well as cistern overflow water from the back half of REEP House.
Increase Permeablility of Hard Surfaces
Next time you’re resurfacing the driveway or patio, consider using permeable paving. This provides a hard stable surface, while at the same time allowing rain to percolate down through narrow gaps into the ground to recharge the aquifer. Some pavers are also designed to allow grass or other low growing species to thrive.
Check out the permeable driveway at the REEP House for Sustainable Living.