Do you wonder how to integrate green infrastructure into your daily surroundings? Then, this little guideline is made for you.
Green Infrastructure uses of natural and built systems to slow down, soak up, and filter stormwater in our urban spaces and is used to manage wet weather impacts in a way that enhances water quality & strengthens resilience to impacts of climate change. It can include living systems like trees, wetlands, green roofs, bioswales, and rain garden; as well as green technologies, for instance, porous pavements, rain barrels and cisterns.
Green infrastructure offers environmentally responsible, and comparatively low cost solutions, allowing water to be filtered and soaked up right where it falls — replenishing aquifers, and revitalizing urban ecosystems in the process. All good reasons to implement it at home!
One of the easiest ways to start to integrate green infrastructure on your property is to use a downspout redirect. Their purpose is to move stormwater away from homes and on to permeable surfaces. Downspout redirects help to divert water from asphalt and pavement onto permeable soils and help stave off stormwater damage.
Make sure to do it right!! A downspout that directs water towards your driveway or sewer is NOT effective in managing the water runoff. As long as the spout is directed towards your lawn, garden or any other permeable surfaces, you have many aesthetic options!
Just like downspout redirects, splash guards are very easy to implement at home. They have the same goal: to move stormwater away from homes and onto permeable surfaces. Again, by diverting water from asphalt and pavement onto permeable soils, you help prevent unecessary runoff and decrease the amount of water that inundate sewers.
Rain gardens are gardens where you plant native shrubs, perennials, and flowers. They are acting as pollinator gardens for butterflies and bees, sequestering greenhouse gases, and acting as sponges soaking up and filtering rain water. Often, they are planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope, and you can direct your downspout to them to increase water flow as well.
Some plants to consider using in your rain garden are shown below.
Trees are increasingly recognized for their importance in managing runoff. Planting native species of trees in your garden will help soak up water, replenish groundwater aquifers and stabilize soils. Their leaf canopies help reduce erosion caused by falling rain. They also provide surface area where rain water lands and evaporates. Roots take up water and help create conditions in the soil that promote infiltration.
Rain Barrels allow you to capture rain water and then store it for later use. Not only does this reduce the amount of water being sent to our wastewater system, it allows you to conserve water later by using the collected water. This water can be used to water lawns, trees, flower and vegetable gardens, and a variety of other functions.
You can also put some more technical and complex green infrastructure solutions. For these, you may need the help of an expert to implement.
Infiltration trenches are excavations in native soil that are filled with geotextile fabric and clean granular stone. They are effective at treating stormwater only if the soil has sufficient porosity. They are typically designed with a perforated pipe inlet from a relatively clean water source, such as a roof.
In comparison to asphalt which funnels rain water directly to our waste water treatment plant, permeable driveways are surfaces that encourage infiltration.
Green roof consist of a waterproofing layer, a root barrier, a drainage system and growing medium for the plants. They can foster the growth of vegetation. It is made of and reduce stormwater runoff, energy use and the heat island effect. “Intensive” green roofs, or roof gardens, can be accessible and can include much larger plants and even water features.