Stormwater Management: Balancing Ecology and Sustainability

Stormwater Management — For Your Yard And Your Town

Stormwater management is an essential aspect of ecological restoration and sustainable landscaping. At Spadefoot, we recognize that stormwater can only be properly managed when native plantings are integrated into the equation. This article explores the critical role of stormwater management in the context of native landscapes, detailing methods and best practices for effective management.

Why Stormwater Management Matters

Stormwater issues often arise from conventional landscaping practices that prioritize aesthetics over ecology. Suburban lawns, especially those that are flat and devoid of trees, have an absorptive capacity comparable to concrete. When rain falls, streets and curbs, increasingly hardscaped, quickly become inundated, leading to flooding.

Surprisingly, straightforward actions, such as leaving leaves unraked, can significantly alleviate stormwater issues. Leaves contain organic material that can retain water and release it gradually into the soil. When mulched, leaves become valuable soil enrichers. Grass clippings further contribute to soil health. Unfortunately, these organic materials often end up in plastic bags at landfills, depriving lawns of essential nutrients. To compensate, people resort to fertilizers, exacerbating the problem.

Native Plantings and Stormwater Management

Spadefoot adopts a holistic approach to stormwater management, recognizing the potential of native plants and organic materials as natural filters. When designing bioswales, we consider how native plants and organic matter can act as effective filters, removing excess fertilizers and contaminants from runoff.

On a larger scale, we transform sumps into native bird habitats, where stormwater from street drain outflows is slowed and filtered, replenishing the aquifer with cleaner water. Traditional stormwater management systems, often over-engineered, are no longer sufficient. Many need to be replaced with more natural methods that strategically channel water through native plantings.

Stormwater Management in Suburban Landscapes

The transformation of native landscapes into suburban environments, whether in residential yards, along roads, or within shopping malls, inevitably raises stormwater management concerns. Water is redirected from construction areas into pipes and drains, ultimately draining into sumps. Nassau County alone boasts 800 such sumps, and Suffolk County shares a similar number. Regrettably, these sumps have become overrun with invasive plants, failing to perform their primary function of recharging the aquifer. Restoring native plants not only revives their physical function but also their ecological significance. Proper stormwater management, coupled with native plantings, can transform a sump into a thriving nature sanctuary.

Protecting Local Water Bodies

Often underestimated are the adverse effects of stormwater runoff on local bays, rivers, and ponds. A complex network of underground pipes, some corroded and obstructed, crisscrosses beneath our streets. During heavy rainfall, these pipes discharge torrents of water. Slowing down this water is essential to prevent erosion, particularly during the initial, most polluted stage of runoff. A thoughtful planting strategy is indispensable for this purpose.

Tailored Stormwater Management Solutions

At Spadefoot, we analyze your property’s hydrology to design the appropriate planting and stormwater management solution. Constructed wetlands, native “swamp forests,” and the conversion of sumps into bird sanctuaries are some of the methods we employ. By harnessing the power of nature, we facilitate its healing.

Our bioswales are designed to capture stormwater runoff and naturally process it through the root systems of native plantings. This not only protects local water bodies but also enhances the beauty of your property and community. Bioswales provide immediate relief from flooding and become more effective and beautiful over time, serving as havens for butterflies, bees, and birds.

Partnering with Spadefoot for Effective Stormwater Management

Whether you’re a municipality grappling with street flooding, a homeowner dealing with excessive runoff, or a property owner concerned about the impact of runoff on local ponds and streams, Spadefoot can design and implement a tailored stormwater management plan that incorporates native plants, stormwater best management practices, and restores ecological balance, all while addressing storm events effectively. Join us in ensuring effective stormwater management that benefits both your property and the environment.