Friday, December 7, 2018

A Bayscape for Stormwater Management

As a consultant for Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, a nonprofit watershed stewardship, I design and install several Bayscapes each year for local homeowners. These native landscapes are constructed with plants, shrubs and trees that are found in this coastal region of Maryland. They are situated at sites where stormwater run-off is causing erosion or pooling.  I typically include swales and berms as a water capturing device.

The example depicted here shows where stormwater from a driveway runs down a sidewalk and collects at the corner of the house, resulting in a soggy area.

This Bayscape was installed with funds from Gunpowder Valley Conservancy grants and labor assistance from local volunteers. A series of swales and berms were laid out along the contour of the slope, just below this shady corner of the sidewalk, to disperse the stormwater run-off. The berms are created with soil from the swales and planted with water-loving natives. Understory trees and shrubs, located at the north edge, include a Redbud, Elderberry, Red Twig Dogwoods, Spicebush, Arrowmwood Viburnum, and Inkberry. These were underplanted with Eastern Columbine, Woodland Phlox and several types of Fern.

Since native plants are adapted to local climatic and soil conditions, they are a practical means of reducing landscape maintenance. Many have duel functions, which minimize the need for soil amendments and insect control. Redbud and Columbine fix nitrogen in the soil; Spicebush and Phlox are beneficial insect hosts; Ferns and Phlox will eventually make a great ground cover, eliminating the need for mulch. The swales, filled with wood chips, double as paths, useful for tending the garden.

This Bayscape is irrigated passively with rain water, reducing the need to get out the hose. A simple strategy of swales and berms not only resolves a stormwater issue, but decreases lawn area, recharges the water table, increases wildlife habitat, and provides natural beauty.

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