|Look for December 2013 "Did You Know" tips at links below|
- Agricultural Irrigation
- Crop Production
- Drinking Water
- Lakes / Ponds / Streams
- Lawn and Landscape Irrigation
- Lawns, Landscapes and Gardens
- Livestock Manure Management
- Policy / Law / Economics / Human Behavior
- Stormwater Management
- Wastewater - Domestic Sewage
- Water Basics (groundwater, surface water, hydrology)
- Well and Wellhead Management
Landscapes which are sustainably designed, installed and managed conserve water, lower the rate and volume of runoff water from rain, snowmelt and irrigation, and help reduce the amount of pollutants reaching surface water. Water related benefits achieved with sustainable residential, business, and community landscapes include:
- More water soaks into soil and less water runs off of a property.
- Roots and soil filter some pollutants from water.
- Fewer pollutants (e.g. soil, fertilizer, pesticides, yard waste) carried off of a property in stormwater.
- Temperature of runoff water cools before reaching surface water.
- Percolation of water through soil increases, helping replenish groundwater reserves.
- Plant roots stabilize soil reducing soil erosion.
- Conservation of water by reducing need and frequency of supplemental irrigation.
Properties tend to be graded and landscapes designed to direct rain and snowmelt off of a property. It is important for stormwater to drain away from buildings and not form stagnant pools. However, a new landscape design trend is to capture (harvest) rainwater and melting snow to reduce the rate and the amount of water running off of a property. This allows it to infiltrate soil or be reused for landscape irrigation. Capturing runoff in this way helps reduce potential pollutants in runoff water and can reduce the demand on the drinking water supply.
Key Landscape Design Practices
- Install rain gardens in locations where they catch and temporarily hold rainwater.
- Use natural drainage patterns, site grading, berms (planted earth mounds) or other methods to channel rainwater away from impervious surfaces (i.e. pavement) onto planted areas such as grass swales, filter strips, or rain gardens.
- Plant and maintain healthy plant cover, especially on slopes. Select plants adapted to the site and maintenance level.
- Avoid planting high maintenance turfgrass on steep slopes, next to water's edge, or in areas not conducive to healthy turf growth or reasonable maintenance access.
- Plant shade trees whose leaves intercept and slow down the rate of rainfall, and whose roots use soil moisture allowing for increased water infiltration.
- Minimize the amount of area covered by paved surfaces. Where feasible, use permeable materials such as bricks, interlocking pavers, porous concrete, mulch, or others.
- Take an active role in developing the property design during new home construction or landscape renovation projects, before grading and construction begins.
Key Landscape Management Practices
- Aim downspouts towards planted areas or pervious hardscape and away from impervious paved areas.
- Collect rainwater from rooftops in rain barrels or cisterns for reuse in landscape irrigation.
- Amend soil with organic matter. Core aerate lawns to help avoid or reduce soil compaction, increase water infiltration, and promote healthy root systems.
- Follow University and label recommendations and calibrate spreaders when using fertilizers and pesticides.
- Use water conservation practices. Avoid water runoff during irrigation . Avoid excess irrigation which leads to saturated soils that can increase water runoff. See the Water Measurement tool under Lawn and Landscape Irrigation for more information.
- Keep potential pollutants (e.g. soil, fertilizer and pesticide granules, and grass clippings) off paved areas. Do not sweep or hose these into the street, but onto planted areas.
- Use best plant care practices when planting and maintaining plants to promote vigorous growth and healthy roots. For further information visit the UNL Extension Horticulture site.
Well designed landscapes are aesthetically pleasing, functional, and sustainable. They can help protect the environment, add to property values, and enhance quality of life. For more information on home landscaping, order the UNL publications booklet, “Home Landscape: Understanding the Basics of Design” (Cost: $6.50).
Rain gardens are one of the latest design trends which can be both beautiful and good for the environment. UNL Extension provides resources and workshops on how to design and install your own.
Home Landscape: Understanding the Basics of Design, this 32-page guide can be ordered online. Cost: $6.50.
Opportunities for the Green Industry (PDF only, 410KB, 6 pages)
Learn more about the roles that nurseries, designers and contractors have to play in implementing best management practices and green design parameters for enhanced stormwater quality and reduced stormwater runoff.
PDF format requires the free Acrobat Reader.
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Information presented within the lawn and landscape section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Stormwater and Greenspace Team. Members include Mary Anna Anderson, Erin Bauer, Sarah Browning, Kathleen Cue, John Fech, Kelly Feehan, Thomas Franti, Roch Gaussoin, Clyde Ogg, Steve Rodie, Jim Schild, Dave Shelton, Richard Sutton and Kim Todd.