The phrase “new normal” has saturated our lives lately regarding the COVID-19 pandemic but it also applies to another important issue: rainfall. From 1951 to 2012, the average total annual precipitation has increased by 19.8%. So far in 2020, the Columbus area is already three inches above normal rainfall levels. With heavy rainfall causing urban flooding and flash flood alerts, it’s becoming increasingly important for everyone to do their part in their own yards to help manage this “new normal.”
Below are a few suggestions from the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District to help manage stormwater on your property.
“Catch” the Rain
Keeping rain where it falls and using it as a resource keeps our watersheds healthy, safe and clear of debris. Treating your own home’s runoff is one way that residents can protect our drinking water while decreasing the harmful effects of flash flooding, erosion, and pollution on our natural waterways. Common backyard conservation practices like rain barrels, cisterns and rain gardens, are easy practices most home-owners can implement to help manage stormwater runoff on their own property.
“Greening” Your Grass
Healthy lawns can capture more water than patchy lawns through thousands of fast-growing individual plants. Leaving grass clippings and shredded leaves on your lawn improves your lawn’s health and cycles carbon back into the soil; those clippings can increase carbon-storage in the soil by nearly 60%. Mowing your lawn height on a higher setting reduces watering needs by producing deeper, healthier roots that can absorb more runoff. Where you can, consider reducing the size of your lawn by planting pollinator-friendly native plants.
Plant More Native Plants
Runoff increases greatly in urban areas because of the prevalence of hard, impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs, and parking lots. Native plants have deeper and more extensive root systems that prevent erosion and provide extra filtration. Research suggests that native landscaping in the form of rain gardens, prairies and urban tree canopies provide a low-cost alternative to large-scale infrastructure solutions for reducing runoff. Native plants and trees intercept rainfall, while their roots aid infiltration and prevent runoff by acting as pathways for water flow.
Click here to view the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District website, where you can find information on the many ways that we can all do our part to help keep our natural waterways healthy, our yards looking great and help manage stormwater in our community.