by Susan Harris
Lisa Mulvaney, Master Watershed Steward for the South River, recently spoke to a group of watershed-concerned gardeners at Homestead about what we can all be doing to protect nearby watersheds – whether they be the South River, the Chesapeake Bay or, in the case of this blogger, the Anacostia River.
But first, did you know that local beaches are typically closed for 48 hours after storms because of the pollutants that are carried there by stormwater? The pollutants are the nitrogen and phosphorus that people put on their land, and sediment that’s caused by erosion. Pollutant-filled stormwater is untreated, Lisa reminds us, not like our drinking water.
The nine recommended actions we can all take are:
- Plant more trees, especially native trees (to provide the maximum benefit to wildlife).
- Catch that rainwater. How? “Slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in.” The easiest methods are using rain barrels and planting those trees. And almost as easy but far more beautiful than rain barrels are rain gardens. Finally, reducing impermeable surfaces is an important step toward reducing run-off. Anne Arundel County provides a tax credit for these run-off reducing measures of 50% of the cost up to $10,000 – good deal!
- Hold that fertilizer. Test to make sure your soil really needs it, and read what our Gene Sumi has to say about healthy soils.
- Scoop the pet poop.
- Compost. And did you know that Anne Arundel County gives away composters?
- Recycle to the max.
- Reduce your energy use.
- Keep soil in its place.
- Don’t dump in storm drains.
More about Rain Gardens
These increasingly popular landscape features are simpler to create than we might imagine because they’re just shallow depressions that contain a variety of plants. The top 2 inches of soil may need to be amended to make it more permeable (by adding organic matter), and the plants – which can include trees and shrubs – must tolerate both wet and dry conditions. So check the resources below for plants that are recommended for this particular condition. In Anne Arundel County residents are required to obtain a permit and an approved “standard grading plan” for any rain garden, but Lisa assured us that they’re free and easy.
Coming soon is Davidsonville Area Civic Association’s Green Expo. It’s Saturday, March 19 from 11 to 4 at the Riva Trace Baptist Church in Davidsonville. There you’ll learn how to save money and money, improve the water quality of our rivers, get property tax credit for stormwater management, green your home and garden, and do bay-friendly lawn care.
- University of Maryland offers help with Bay-Wise Gardening.
- Rain Gardens Across Maryland
- Anne Arundel County’s Rain Garden Page includes information about tax credits
- Photos and plant lists for rain gardens are provided by the Chesapeake Ecology Center.
- The Low Impact Development Center has design templates and plant lists for rain gardens.
- And Montgomery County has a Rainscape Program filled with good information.
- And Prince George’s County’s also has web resources about bioretention and rain gardens.