Plant a Rain Garden

A rain garden is a great example of a nature-based solution to reduce stormwater runoff from your property. Rain gardens are attractive landscaping features that are specially designed to treat runoff and allow water to infiltrate the soil and recharge ground water.

With a rain garden, runoff from roofs and other impermeable areas around the property are directed to a sunken area where water can pond and move through a mix of mulch and constructed organic soils planted with appropriate native species. Rain gardens allow natural bio-remediation processes of microorganisms, plants, and soils to take place, which prevents contaminants making it to stream and shore habitats.

The group 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound shares a wealth of knowledge on building rain gardens that is specifically relevant to the Pacific Northwest. See their comprehensive guide on building a rain garden, and watch their video demonstration linked below.

Additional Resources

Check out our partner Peninsula Streams Society's blog about three Rain Garden Demonstration Sites they have built at urban schools in the Capital Region. This project has built storm and drought resilience into local watersheds! Within the post are a number of helpful and informative links.

For professional assistance with designing and building a rain garden, search for landscape architect firms through the BC Society of Landscape Architects.

Photo credit: Maria Cantanzaro and Paul de Greeff

Permeable Paving

A potential source of pollution entering waterways comes from stormwater runoff from around our homes. In particular, a paved driveway, which may have car oil and road residues, delivers contaminated runoff to gutters and drains that directly connect with aquatic environments.

Fortunately, there are options, such as permeable pavers, gravel or grass grid systems, and specialty concrete mixes, that allow storm water to filter through to the soils below.

Using these alternatives has a number of environmental benefits, including lower pollutant loads entering water ways, reduced erosion and flooding from flashy storm runoff and increased groundwater recharge. Additionally, less radiant heat is retained by these alternative systems compared to traditional concrete. This will reduce heat pollution that contributes to urban heat island effect.

Depending on the type of solution selected, installation methods and costs will vary. Typically, pavers are placed on a level bed that allows infiltration and spaces between are back-filled with fine gravel. Detailed installation guides and summaries of different options can be found online (here too).

Learn more about the how cars can cause water pollution and ways to reduce the impact, here.

Photo credit: Toinane on Unsplash, Nicole Christiansen and Paul de Greeff