Great Lakes Permaculture

Backyard Water Conservation

Moving into spring brings joy and hope for the coming planting season, but it also brings a few potential problems with that being ice, flooding, and ground water runoff. Water is a finite resource which we need to protest and to conserve, so let’s look at a few ways to help our situation.


Look at your yard and property, almost all of the water that hits your house, driveway, garage and sidewalk will end up in the storm water system because there is nothing to slow the water down giving it time to soak gently into the ground. While making it’s path across the hard surfaces, the water also picks up pollutants that are carried into the storm water system. By reducing the amount of runoff into our storm water system we help to improve the quality of our streams, rivers, and lakes. We also reduce the potential for flooding in our area. While we will never reduce runoff entirely, we can dramatically improve the water conservation within our backyard lot.


  • Use water barrels to capture the rain instead of letting it run directly into the storm sewer. This water is perfect for gardening, indoor and outdoor plants, and your lawn.


  • Create swales and berms to hold the water high on your property allowing it time to slowly soak into the ground. The swales and berms should be placed on contour within your property to work effectively. They will also hold the soil nutrients within your property instead of them washing away with the rain.


  • Make a rain garden to filter the runoff with water tolerant plants. You can create one in a natural depression or dig you own. Additional information can be found here in rain gardens.


  • Mulch around you house, the mulch helps to absorb water and retain it for the plants use.


  • Replace concrete driveways and sidewalks with gravel, stone, brick, and wood chips which allow the water to filter into the ground.


  • Eliminate the use of pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn and garden. Integrated pest management is a key component when trying to improve water runoff and potential pollutants.


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