And it would cost less money, conserve energy and water, and cut down on pollution caused by lawn mowers.
If every resident had a rain garden and a rain barrel in an attempt to keep any rainfall of one inch or less on their own property, it could eliminate up to 80 percent of today’s flooding problems.
Those are the facts as Bill Bedrossian of Bedrock Earthscapes in Wheaton, IL, sees them. Bedrossian, with more than 35 years of experience in landscape design, grounds and facility management, recently shared his ideas during a “Renewability and Sustainability” seminar at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Wheaton.
“We need systems to capture rainfall, clean it and reuse it,” Bedrossian said. “We do that through green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens, vegetated swales, native plantings and porous pavement.”
Bedrossian said the current system of rain gutters, rainspouts and man-made retention ponds and wetlands actually hurts the environment.
“All we do is move our floodwater with salt and oil and other run-off and move it off our property and into our streams and rivers, where it flows into our forest preserves and kills native plants, allowing only invasives to grow and thrive.”
When major corporations utilize native plantings and landscape plans that handle water run-off and reuse it, they are showing good corporate social responsibility and saving money.
“We spend more money on water and fertilizer on our lawns in this country than we do on agriculture,” Bedrossian said. “Sustainability is defined as using only what we need so there is something left for future generations.
“Sustainable practices are the wave of the future because they enhance biodiversity and support the LEED and emerging stormwater best management practices.”
Bedrossian said a vegetable garden on your property is a great way to process rainwater and help the soil.
“Young people today don’t know how to plant a vegetable garden, because they’ve never been exposed to it,” Bedrossian said. “They are teaching it now in college, if you can imagine that.”
Bedrossian said that huge parking lots at businesses or college campuses are perfect places to start employing bio-swales – the green areas with plants or trees that break up a large parking lot.
“We are also starting to see more no-mow types of turf, especially in areas near parking lots or on sloping hills,” he added. “It doesn’t make sense to mow long grass near a parking lot, and then all of that grass sits on the parking lot, until it flows off into the sewers.”
For homeowners, Bedrossian suggests that those who have low-lying areas that collect water and are hard to mow through, should consider a rain garden in those areas.
“If everyone had a rain garden in their front yards, we’d eliminate a lot of our flooding problems, while also conserving on the use of our own water,” Bedrossian said.