Bayscaping your yard or planting a rain garden can save you time and money; it also helps reduce stormwater runoff. Photo credit: District Department of the Environment
When rain falls on impervious surfaces such as sidewalks and roads, it picks up pollutants like oil and bacteria that eventually flow into our local streams and rivers. This stormwater pollutes our waterways, causes erosion, and destroys wildlife habitats in the streams. The RiverSmart Homes program, run by the District Department of the Environment, helps homeowners reduce the amount of stormwater that runs off their properties and into drains, flowing into our rivers and streams. Installing rain barrels
under a home’s downspouts captures water during rain events and stores the water to be used for hydrating gardens later. Replacing impervious surfaces—those surfaces that do not allow water to seep into the ground—with pervious pavers
is another way to reduce runoff. Instead of contributing to stormwater runoff, pervious pavers absorb water and release it into the ground, where the water is naturally filtered and cleaned before entering underground aquifers or streams.
By installing rain gardens or adopting the practice of bayscaping, homeowners reduce the need for the mowing and fertilizing that conventional lawns require. Bayscaping a yard is easy and can cost less than half of traditional lawns to maintain—simply replace an area of grass or lawn (at least 120 feet) with plant species native to the Chesapeake region . When caring for conventional lawns and gardens, homeowners may use large quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, water, and gasoline. Rain gardens, which are small gardens placed in areas ideal for storing stormwater, provide habitats for birds and butterflies. The RiverSmart Homes program also encourages the planting of trees which use water more efficiently than many varieties of lawn grass. RiverSmart Homes benefit the District by reducing the amount of heavy metals in the groundwater, supporting local wildlife, and improving air quality.
How is the indicator defined? How often updated?
Rain barrels allow homeowners to use stored rainwater for later use. Photo credit: District Department of the Environment
Six metrics devised from the District’s RiverSmart Homes program illustrate its impact: the number of rain barrels distributed, the number of bayscaped yards, the number of trees planted, the number of paved areas replaced with pervious pavers, the number of rain gardens installed, and the number of acres of land treated with stormwater Best Management Practices. These indicators are annually updated based on calendar year data and are cumulative. This data is provided by the District Department of the Environment.
What influences this indicator?
These indicators are essentially a result of the number of District residents who choose to adopt RiverSmart practices. The impact of these indicators is influenced by the quantity of rain events in the District.
What you can do to help:
- If you own a home with a yard in the District, either as a resident or as a landlord, you are eligible for the RiverSmart Homes program. Convert your conventional garden or yard into a scenic, environmentally productive landscape .
- Bayscape your yard or cultivate a raingarden. Plant trees, install rainbarrels, and pervious pavers.
- You can also reduce your contribution to stormwater runoff by limiting your use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Pervious pavers reduce stormwater runoff. Photo credit: District Department of the Environment
Green Roofs, Trees, River Health
Links to related programs
DDOE RiverSmart Homes Application
DDOE RiverSmart Homes Website
Rain Gardens: A How to Manual for Homeowners
River Smart Homes: Clean Water Starts in Your Yard U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Why Bayscape?
DDOE RiverSmart Video
EPA ‘Low Impact Development’ Videos