One of the biggest issues associated with housing developments and activities moving into natural areas is the management of runoff waters. That is because excess water flowing through undeveloped land is usually absorbed into the soil. When impervious materials like concrete, cement and asphalt are introduced into the environment in parking lots, house foundations and new buildings, water cannot infiltrate back into the soil and runs off, creating potentially damaging flooding.
Usually this flooding is the result of precipitation or snow/ice melting. If the water does not soak back into the ground, it either evaporates or it runs off into other land areas or into streams, rivers or other bodies of water. This can cause erosion and pollution. The first run-off of a storm is called the “first flush.” The water picks up pollutants from the ground and delivers them to nearby stream or other bodies of water. In homes, the result can be basement flooding and sewer backup. Besides ruining furniture and carpets and damaging walls and foundations, consistent flooding can cause mold growth and other issues that affect health for homeowners.
According to the EPA, “as much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is wasted from inefficient watering methods and systems.” Fortunately, many homeowners are modifying their landscape techniques to reverse this trend. This type of water conscious landscaping is referred to as Xeriscaping. If you’re ready to venture into Xeriscaping, here are a few steps you can take to start saving water today.
When possible, select native or drought tolerate plants for your yard. Native plants will thrive in your climate and require far less maintenance than non-native selections. If you decide to plant some of the more water guzzling varieties, group plants with similar water needs together. It’s also important to note that grass often requires more water than other landscaping choices. Depending on how you will use the area, other options such as ground covers, shrubs, patios or gravel, may be more viable.