Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home projects for watershed health

I've been testing several projects people can do at home...

One-hour rain gardens for your sidewalk. Observe which side of your sidewalk the water runs to--and especially, where water pools. Then dig out the soil to well below the pavement level. Put in native plants adapted to sun or shade, as the spot requires. It's a good way to get started infiltrating rain--it takes only an hour, per square of sidewalk.

Rain gardens for your downspouts or driveway. Every downspout that currently sends water to the street needs a rain garden. Don't dump your responsibility onto the City! Rain gardens are beautiful, interesting places. This is one of the most important things you can do for your your lake and water supply--but a good rain garden takes several days to build. More info.

Mini-nursery. Plant a few natives in an unused shady spot where grass won't grow, or in a nearby stormwater channel. After they spread, share them with neighbors. Be the "Johnny Appleseed" of woodland plants.

Stop erosion in your neighborhood. Repair an eroding terrace. Plant shady bare areas with woodland plants. Build little dams in gullies.

Eradicate invasives in your yard or neighborhood. Eliminate plants like burdock, garlic mustard, or Japanese knotweed. More.

Get rain barrels (right) for your downspouts, and use them to water your garden.

Plant native perennials to increase biodiversity, and to reduce your area of sterile grass.

Reclaim your greenway as a mini-reserve. First, improve access by trimming branches or downed trees. Then mark a pathway. Pull invasives, and plant native plants. You might also create shelter for animals by making piles of branches, or provide water.

Beautify a forgotten public space--terrace, median, park, or stormwater channel. If it's not next to your house, it's best to involve neighbors, and consult with your neighborhood association or neighborhood garden group.

Terrace gardens create beauty and diversity in neighborhoods. The most important thing is to dig out the soil to well below the sidewalk level. That way, rainwater flows in from the sidewalk, turning the terrace into a rain garden. Leaves accumulate, enriching the soil.

Get kids outdoors with a neighborhood project, like watching where stormwater goes, or tracking wildlife.

Read "Childhood memories of our stream," by Craig Miller.

Plant a Christmas tree you can harvest--or use outdoors--in place of buying one. Or plant an understory tree on your terrace. Springtime is the best time to plant. More.

Turn yard waste into compost. Be a modern-day alchemist... turn brown into green! The City doesn't pick up yard waste anymore. With a composter in the back yard, you don't have to lug leaves to your terrace, or lug store bought bags of compost in. When you spread compost around your plants, they celebrate for several years. Video. David Thompson.  Originally appeared on Save Our Stream.

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