Florida has a wonderful, diverse, unique geology and climate that sustains an abundance of wildlife and tropical plants. The downside is that it’s also highly susceptible to pollution, and even small traces of phosphates and nitrates can cause a lot of damage. Not to mention, we get a lot of our drinking water from ground supplies.
Just think about it for a moment. All of those pesticides and herbicides that people put onto their lawn can end up inside of you.
Heavy rainfall during the wet season causes a lot of leaching of these pollutants into our water sources. Leaching happens when the ground soil can’t absorb storm waters, causing sediments and pollutants to rush right over it and into rivers, lakes, and streams.
You can help prevent this in your own backyard. By implementing a few changes, you’ll help to stop leaching from carrying storm water across your garden and into the ground water. Since many homes are built on highly-compacted fill soil, any little change can make a big difference.
Check Your Gutter Downspouts
Leaching happens when the soil just doesn’t have enough time or capability to absorb the sudden rush of water when it comes during a storm. Check your gutters and your downspouts. Make sure the spouts are aimed at a porous surface, which helps to diffuse the water and lets it soak into the soil.
Splash blocks are especially important for this. They’re readily available at any hardware store, and they protect the soil just beneath the spout from erosion while helping to diffuse the flow.
If you do a lot of gardening, when planting around the downspouts, be sure to choose plants that can cope with extremes of wet and dry weather.
Reshape the Yard
As mentioned above, many homes are built on compact, hard fill dirt after the natural soil’s been ripped out and hauled away. A lot of land is left flattened out by the process. Not only does it get dull and monotonous when you look at yard after yard, but it’s detrimental for the absorption of storm water.
You can incorporate swells and dips into your yard to help. Raised (or technically, berms) and dipping ground (swales) can divert flows of rain water and trap it for longer, preventing it from rushing away so quickly into other sources. This option will take a lot of work and possibly the purchase of some soil, but not only will it help prevent leaching, but it will help to make your yard look more natural and pleasing to the eye. In addition, if you incorporate native plants into your landscaping, you’ll create a waterfront-friendly yard.
Rain Barrels and Cisterns
This is a topic that we’ve covered in previous months, but what we said then still holds true today. Building or buying a rain barrel to collect the water is a great way to conserve water, protect our rivers and lakes, and make your yard look a little more attractive.
Just remember a few important things:
- Check that it’s legal to have a rain barrel in your county.
- Don’t let your rain barrel become a mosquito breeding ground. Either make sure your downspout fits tightly for a closed rain barrel or use environmentally-safe Bacillus thuringiensis products in an open rain barrel.
- Keep an eye out for algae growing in your barrel. If you do get algae growth, kill it off with submersible bacteria packets.
Use Porous Surfaces in Landscaping
Take a look at the type of paving materials you’ve got for your driveway, patio, and walkways. Whenever possible, choose porous surfaces instead of the usual asphalt or concrete. Some great choices are brick, gravel, turf block, mulch, or pervious concrete.
Materials like these help water to seep into the ground, preventing the pollutants from getting into our groundwater sources. Best of all, many of these materials are cheaper to use than the more common varieties.
Need help checking your gutters and downspouts? We’re a seamless aluminum gutter installer working in Ocala, Land o’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel and throughout the Tampa Bay Metro area. Call us today to schedule a free estimate.