Trees are amazing. Their leaves are beautiful, the create shade where we can cool off in the hot summer months, and let’s not forget they make our air breathable. Did you realize that trees can be used to reduce localized flooding because of their extensive root system and need for water? They are happy to soak up pesky rain water! Don’t believe us? Check out the EPA: http://bit.ly/3hBuBRV.
Before you decide to plant a forest around your home, consider:
- The existing trees- plant a variety for aesthetic appeal and so one disease doesn’t wipe them all out
- Any overhead utilities- you may end up pruning your tree frequently
- Any paved areas- stay at least 5 feet from pavement; we don’t want a new driveway due to tree roots
- Any underground installations- tree roots get into sprinkler systems and septic systems
- The shade- will it fall where you want it to? will it be so dense that it kills your grass?
- Any seasonal droppings- will acorns or walnuts bother you? are you allergic to cottonwood?
Rain gardens are a great solution for any area of your yard that ponds regularly. They are designed to occupy a low spot and fill it with beautiful plants that will soak in the rain instead of letting it pond. A rain garden can improve your property’s curb appeal, provide for pollinators, and clean up stormwater, all while doing work for you. The Gardner’s Supply Company has tips here.
In the Grand Island area, high groundwater has long been a fact of life. First documented when the settlers arrived, the City started monitoring the groundwater levels in the late 1960’s. In some ways, it is an asset: it provides our drinking water and can be utilized to create beautiful lake-front properties. Unfortunately, many basements were built below the groundwater table, leaving some property owners with a constant source of concern.
The fastest, often least expensive step to prevent water in your home is to make sure that your landscaping is directing all stormwater away from the foundation of your home. Extend downspouts, re-slope your landscaping, plant trees where available to drink in the water. This doesn’t address groundwater but it does keep the rain from adding to your troubles.
If you have water in your basement and your neighbor doesn’t, consider the depth of your basement. The depth of just one cement block (generally 8″) can mean the difference between a dry basement and a lengthy refinishing project. Some people with enough ceiling clearance might consider filling in a few inches of their basement.
Not ready to fill in your basement? Unfortunately, the most effective way to keep groundwater out of your home is to invest in a drainage or pump system. These systems are costly and there is no guarantee they will keep your property dry. Some companies try to sell you the moon so take the time to shop around, get quotes, and educate yourself before committing to purchasing a system. Once installed, remember to perform regular maintenance on your system to ensure continued protection.
Last- remember that our stormwater system is separate from our sewer system. Discharge any clean water that may be pumped out of your basement into the stormwater system. Connecting your sump discharge to your sewer line is flirting with danger- you could cause a sewer back-up in your own home at any time.
Have an unsightly ditch? Consider a bioswale! These ditches have been designed to improve drainage, water quality, and natural habitats. They use taller (3″) vegetation to slow down the flow of stormwater which allows dirt and sediment to fall out of the flow and creates a cleaner discharge. The slower water also has a chance to seep into the ground and replenish the groundwater reservoir we use for our drinking water. Taller vegetation creates habitats for wildlife and may attract more pollinators (like butterflies, bees, and beetles). See the USDA’s guide here: https://bit.ly/380yr3R
Problem: Lawnmowers create 5% of US air pollution (EPA)
Remedy: Buffalo Grass tops out between 4-5 inches and has a growing shorter season; thus requiring less mowing.
Problem: Lawn owners use 10 times the amount of pesticides and fertilizers per acre than farmers use on their crops (National Academy of Sciences).
Remedy: Native grasses are used to drier conditions. Even traditional grasses can be trained to use less water.
Problem: Traditional grasses use more water
Remedy: Native grass species require less chemical input since they’re already adapted to succeed in our soils and climate.
Problem: Native grasses aren’t as pretty, soft, green, etc.