5 Ways To Make Your Home Water-Friendly

 

When the urban runoff from thousands of individual homes in LA comes together, whether it’s from wasteful practices or natural rainfall, it can end up carrying trash, debris, oil, grease, fertilizers and other toxic chemicals, in addition to bacteria and viruses, into our local waterways. Clearly, this has a huge impact on our local environment and the quality of our water. For this reason, legislation on Low Impact Development [LID] has set out to make new home developments and redevelopments take greater care in how they use and dispose of water and runoff.

But even if you’re not tackling a new construction, there are many different small scale—and fun—ways to help make your home more water friendly. By choosing or combining any of the five examples below, anyone can help to reduce urban runoff and increase household quality and savings!

1.   Rain Barrels & Small Cisterns

Depending on your home, installing a rain barrel can be relatively easy and inexpensive way to get into rainwater harvesting. They work by  directing runoff from your roof into catch-barrels, potentially saving up to 1000 gallons per year of free water, or more, with a 55-gallon barrel. That’s equal to a month worth of showers per person that could be used for watering a lawn or garden, which reduces how often you need to use a sprinkler system.

2.   Planter Boxes

Whether they are for beauty or backyard produce, raised planter boxes are great ways to catch and store water that would otherwise overflow into storm drains. This solution even works for terrace gardeners in apartments or condos.  Every box, or pot, helps a little bit to catch excess water before it hits the pavement.

 

3.   Rain Gardens
When you have a lawn to play with, digging down can be just as effective as building up. You can cultivate a rain garden simply by creating a slope or an indentation in your yard that directs the water down into the greenery where it can pool (or feed a dry well) rather than out onto the streets.

4.   Dry Wells
If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry, a shovel and some rocks can be just as helpful, and maybe even as pretty. Simply dig a hole and fill it with gravel, rocks, or other debris (to keep if from caving in). This alone can catch overflow and disperse it, naturally, back into the ground rather than into streets. You could even bury a well with concrete walls for greater capacity and it would be completely invisible from the surface of your yard.

5.   Permeable Pavements (or Porous Pavement Systems)
One of the best ways to reduce runoff is to direct it into the ground where it can be filtered by plants or soil. Unfortunately, a lot of materials like solid concrete, such as sidewalks and densely paved driveways, stop water from reaching the ground and channels runoff towards storm drains. Using permeable pavement materials for driveways, sidewalks, porches and pathways, much like like a dry well, help to break down this barrier. There are even new materials that look just like the traditional stuff, but allow water to seep down into the ground below. Or you can go more traditional and opt for surfaces like gravel or stepping stones.

While you can start with these five, there are a lot of different ways, with different levels of commitment, initial investment and yearly upkeep, to make your home water friendly, more beautiful and more productive all at the same time. And what’s not to like about saving water, saving money and saving the environment all in one swoop? If you want to stay informed on the latest tips for water-friendly living, don’t forget to sign up for LA Stormwater’s eNewsletter for continued updates!

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