How to Reduce Water Runoff Around Your Yard With Mulch, Pavers & Gravel

3 min read

Water runoff is rain that does not soak into the ground where it falls. As more people move to urban areas, storm water runoff problems tend to worsen because the flattened, hard surfaces and lack of natural vegetation prevents rain from soaking into the ground. It is most concerning if the water is pooling around the foundations of your buildings, as it can cause serious structural damage over time.

There are a few simple things you can do to reduce water runoff on your own property:

1. Minimize impervious surfaces (surfaces that don't absorb water), on your property. Naturally, most precipitation soaks into the ground where it falls. Plants absorb a lot of this through their roots, and some makes its way down to the water table. The "built environment," is characterized by impervious surfaces, so a large portion of rainfall becomes storm water runoff. Reducing the amount of impervious surface on your property will reduce the amount of runoff.

2. Replace concrete slabs with pavers. You can use paving stones or bricks for patios, walkways, and driveways. Water can seep into the spaces between the pavers and reduce the amount of runoff.

3. Line impervious surfaces with gravel trenches. Figure out where water runs off your driveway or patio, and then dig a small trench along the edge. Fill it with gravel to slow the runoff and allow the water to seep into the soil.

4. Replace lawn areas with native plants. Lawns aren't particularly effective at absorbing and retaining water, especially during heavy rain like what we have been experiencing on the Sunshine Coast in the past month. This is a problem not only because more natural water runs off them, but also because they may need irrigation during drier months, which in turn can create more runoff. Native plants tend to develop more extensive root systems that take in and hold water more effectively than lawns. They also require less maintenance than a lawn. 

5. Add organic matter to your soil. Adding compost or mulch to your soil not only makes your plants happier, and replenishes the nutrients in the soil, but it can also reduce runoff. Spread a 5 - 10cm layer of organic material once a year.

6. Don't leave soil exposed. Depending on your slope and soil type, bare soil can become almost as hard as concrete. If you don't want to plant vegetation on an exposed patch of soil, cover it with mulch, wood chips, or gravel. This is particularly important for newly landscaped yards that don't yet have established vegetation.

7. Plant trees and preserve existing ones. Trees' incredible root systems effectively absorb water over a large area. As well, the canopy of the tree slows the fall of rainwater so that the ground is capable of absorbing larger amounts. Plant native trees or trees which take in a lot of water and are well adapted to your environment, and take care of your existing trees. For new home constructions, leave trees in place if possible. Also be aware of how close you plant trees to your buildings, fences or pools, because the root systems can become problematic over time.

8. Create a rain garden. A rain garden is a garden which is planted in a slight depression in the ground. It collects water and allows it to slowly permeate into the soil. Rain gardens come in many sizes and are typically planted at the base of a slope or even at the outlet to a downspout--anywhere where water naturally flows or can be directed. Water-loving plants and a base of permeable soil which has been enhanced with fertile loam and a topcoat of mulch allow the rain garden to quickly absorb even large amounts of water, usually in just a few hours.

If you are contemplating any of these measures for your yard, it is really important that you get the correct product, in the correct quantity. If you are unsure how much you need, give us a call on 5453 7100 and we will point you in the right direction.

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