10 Creative and Functional Stormwater Management Landscapes | askBAMLand

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Rain pouring down isn't just for ducks!

Ever considered how cities manage the downpour?

Managing stormwater can be an art with purpose, transforming landscapes into functional marvels.

We've all seen occasional flooding and puddles, but did you know that rain can be much more than a nuisance?

It's a vital resource, and with clever landscaping, it can be harnessed to benefit our environments.

Professionals use innovative designs like green roofs, permeable pavements, and bioswales to create spaces that are not only sustainable but also pleasing to the eye.

By exploring these ten landscapes, you'll gain insights into how they handle water efficiently while adding value to our urban spaces.

Key Takeaways

  • Stormwater design combines function with aesthetics.
  • Strategies include green infrastructure and permeable surfaces.
  • Effective management contributes to environmental sustainability.

Table of Contents

Green Roofs

Have you ever thought of turning your ordinary rooftop into a lush, high-performing garden?

Green roofs are not only a vibrant patch of greenery atop urban structures, but they're also a smart way to manage stormwater.

They absorb rainfall like sponges and can capture around 55% of rainwater, significantly reducing runoff.

Plus, these living roofs can trim down your heating and cooling costs, thanks to their insulating powers.

Functionality of Green Roofs:

  • Absorb Rainfall: Act as natural sponges, capturing and slowing the flow of stormwater.
  • Improve Water Quality: They filter pollutants, leading to cleaner runoff.
  • Insulate Buildings: Help in reducing energy costs by providing thermal insulation.
  • Wildlife Habitats: Offer a cozy haven for birds and insects.

Installation Insight:

  • Depth Matters: An extensive green roof typically ranges around 3.5 inches in depth.
  • Initial Investment: They can be pricey to install, but think of the long-term benefits!

Did you know retrofitting existing roofs with green systems can meet various environmental objectives?

In urban jungles with too much concrete, green roofs can mitigate the adverse effects of impervious surfaces.

By retrofitting, you transform your building footprint into a proactive part of the stormwater solution.

Performance Parameters:

  • Runoff Coefficient: A crucial factor for designing drainage systems.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: System performance must adjust for seasonal changes.

Choosing to invest in a green roof is not only a step towards an eco-friendlier lifestyle but also a wise move for stormwater management.

Imagine a view with thriving plants each time you look up, instead of a drab, gray expanse.

Now, isn't that a rooftop revolution worth considering for your space?

Permeable Pavements

Have you ever wondered where all the rainwater goes after it hits your sidewalk or driveway?

Well, with permeable pavements, it doesn't just slide away into the storm drains.


These inventive surfaces let the water seep right through like a sieve, merging back into the ground to replenish our good old Earth.

Think of it as giving the ground a nice long drink with every rainfall!

Permeable pavements come in all sorts of flavors:

  • Porous Asphalt
  • Pervious Concrete
  • Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavement (PICP)

Each type is designed both to bear the load of vehicles and give stormwater a direct route to soak into the soil below.

And yes, they definitely pass the eco-friendly test by helping to manage stormwater right at the source.

Want a few specifics?

Here’s a closer look:

  • Porous asphalt and pervious concrete have small voids that allow water to drain through the pavement and into a specially prepared sub-base.
  • PICP consists of concrete or brick pavers separated by joints filled with small stones, letting water infiltrate.
Type Benefits
Porous Asphalt Less runoff, longer lifespan
Pervious Concrete Reduces need for stormwater basins, filters pollutants
Permeable Interlocking Pavers Aesthetic appeal, versatile design, easy to repair

Envision turning an ordinary parking lot in Kansas City into a giant sponge that not only tackles stormwater but also looks great and stays functional.

These pavements are prime examples of blending form and function, taking the concept of a simple paved surface to innovative and earth-friendly new heights.

So, next time you're contemplating a new driveway or revamping a parking area, why not consider permeable pavements as a seriously smart option?

Your local ecosystem will thank you!


Have you ever strolled through a park and admired the channel brimming with grasses and flowers?

That's a bioswale, and it's not just there for its good looks!

You’re looking at nature’s own smart system for managing stormwater.

What Exactly Are Bioswales?

These are ingeniously simple features: linear channels that serve the dual purpose of directing stormwater and cleaning it in the process.

As rainwater runs off urban surfaces, it picks up all sorts of pollutants.

Bioswales are the eco-friendly answer to filtering this water.

How, you ask?

Let’s break it down:

  • Conveyance: Bioswales guide rainwater runoff to where it can be managed.
  • Filtration: As water flows through the swale, pollutants are removed by the plants and soil.
  • Plant Life: Native grasses and perennials line the swale, not just for their aesthetic value but for their filtration capabilities.

Built to Perform The design of bioswales is quite specific.

They are shallow trenches filled with a mixture of soil, compost, and plants, all chosen for their ability to withstand and treat stormwater.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Soil Composition: A specific soil mix is crucial. It should have a maximum of 5% clay content and be able to handle a rainfall rate of 5-10 inches per hour.
  • Native Plants: Choosing local vegetation is key as they are adapted to the area's conditions, require less maintenance, and support local biodiversity.

Incorporating bioswales into commercial properties is no longer just a suggestion—it’s a requirement in many municipalities for stormwater volume management.

So, when you next come across these functional beauties, remember their role in creating a sustainable and clean water flow through our cities.

Cool, right?

Constructed Wetlands

Have you ever thought of wetlands as giant, nature-made water filters?

Well, that's exactly what constructed wetlands are – handcrafted marshes in the heart of urban spaces.

Just like the wetlands out in the wild, these engineered landscapes are pros at cleaning up the water.

Why are they so good?

It's simple!

They mimic the processes of natural wetlands.

As stormwater runs through these wetlands, a couple of neat things happen:

  • Sediment gets trapped in the vegetation.
  • Nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, are taken up by plants.
  • Water quality improves as these processes reduce pollution.

What's more?

These wetlands aren't just about utility.

They are places where ducks paddle and dragonflies zip over the water, creating a buzz of life in city landscapes.

Yep, they're a true win-win!

Here's the quick lowdown on why constructed wetlands are catching on:

  • Low-cost: They don't need pricey tech to run.
  • Low-energy: They make the most of natural processes.
  • Maintenance: Just a little bit goes a long way.

And with water scarcity becoming a pressing issue (hint: expected in 40 states in the next 10 years), capturing stormwater is like finding treasure in the desert.

So not only do these engineered ecosystems tackle pollution, they offer a buffer against water scarcity too.

Remember, a well-designed constructed wetland is a mix of deep and shallow waters, with islands and vegetation creating a matrix of habitats for wildlife.

Now isn’t that something to marvel at?

Tree Box Filters

Ever walked by a lush tree on a busy sidewalk and wondered if it's just there to look pretty?

Well, those urban trees might be more than just a touch of nature; they're likely hard at work managing stormwater!

Tree box filters are your neighborhood eco-warriors, cleverly disguised as everyday street trees.

Imagine a small pit or box where a tree comfortably resides.

This isn't an ordinary pit; it's engineered to do something extraordinary:

  1. Capture stormwater runoff right at the source.
  2. Use the natural processes of the plants to treat this water.

Now, let's break it down.

How do these filters function?

It's simple yet brilliant.

Rainwater flows into the tree box, where it percolates through soil and plant roots.

As it does so, contaminants and pollutants are naturally filtered out.

Neat, don't you think?

Here's what makes tree box filters so special:

  • Dual Functions: They provide greenery and simultaneously manage stormwater.
  • Pollutant Removal: They're adept at reducing various pesky pollutants!

Curious about what goes under the surface?

Below the tree lies an engineered soil mix.

This mix is crucial, designed to maximize pollutant removal and ensure proper drainage.

Now to the nitty-gritty:

Components of a Tree Box Filter:

  • Soil and plants
  • Precast structure
  • Grate and frame

What this means for you and your urban landscape:

  • Clearer waterways, thanks to reduced stormwater runoff.
  • Less strain on your city's drainage system.
  • A blend of aesthetics and functionality right on your city streets.

So next time you're strolling past one of these green guardians, give it a nod of appreciation.

It's not just there for shade; it's keeping your city clean and your water clear!

Rain Barrels and Cisterns

Ever thought about giving your garden an eco-friendly treat?

Rain barrels and cisterns may be the perfect addition to your stormwater management toolbox.

These systems capture rainwater from your roof and give you an alternative supply for all your non-potable water needs, like keeping your plants happy!

Why Use Them?

  • Save Water: Did you know just one inch of rain on a 10-square-foot roof churns out about 6 gallons of water? That's water you can save!
  • Reduce Runoff: By snagging rainwater before it hits the ground, you're lessening the amount of runoff that could carry pollutants to our waterways.

How They Work:

  1. Catch: Rain barrel placed under a downspout catches water.
  2. Store: It holds every precious drop for you to use later.
  3. Reuse: Use collected water for your garden, lawn, or outdoor cleaning.

Choosing a System:

  • Size Matters: Options range from quaint 55-gallon barrels to grand cisterns holding thousands of gallons.
  • Material: You’ll find barrels made of plastic, wood, or metal, all durable and designed for longevity.

Installation Tips:

  • Location: Pick a spot near your downspout and garden to make watering easy.
  • Foundation: Keep your barrel stable with a solid, level base.
  • Overflow: Plan for excess water to avoid any mini floods.

Fun Fact: Integrating a rain barrel or cistern into your landscaping is like giving Mother Earth a high-five.

You're conserving water and protecting the environment at the same time—you eco-warrior, you!

Remember, every drop you collect is one less drop contributing to stormwater runoff.

Ready to set up your very own water-saving oasis?

Dry Creek Beds

Ever thought of adding a bit of charm while solving practical problems in your yard?

A dry creek bed might be just what you need!

Picture this: a beautifully crafted passageway for rainwater, looking like a stream you might stumble upon during a forest hike.

It's not only pleasing to the eye but also a hero in stormwater management.


Why Dry Creek Beds?

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Who doesn't love the look of a meandering stream? Even when dry, these beds add a visual interest to your garden.
  • Functional: Beyond beauty, they serve to guide rainwater away from your home, reducing the risk of water damage.

Getting Started

  • Choose Your Stones Wisely: To mimic a natural creek, select a variety of stone sizes and shapes. Soften the edges with flat slate stones and fill the center with smaller pebbles.
  • Layer Up: Start with landscaping fabric to fend off those pesky weeds, then pile on the rocks.
  • Be Creative With Elements: Why not add a quaint bridge or stepping stones for that extra dash of personality?

Design Tips:

  1. Grass Integration: Allow the creek bed to flow seamlessly into your lawn for a natural vibe.
  2. Mulch Magic: Mix it up with some mulch or river rocks for diverse textures.

Let's talk numbers, shall we?

By incorporating a dry creek bed, you align with the fact that in the US, a staggering 98% of basements may encounter water damage.

By crafting your own creek, you're taking a proactive step and adding a striking feature to your landscape.

Ready to take on the role of landscape artist and stormwater manager all in one go?

With these tips, your garden will not just look fabulous, but it'll work smart, just like you!

Pervious Concrete Systems

Have you ever thought about how a simple walkway or parking lot could be a superhero for our environment?

Pervious concrete systems are precisely that!

Imagine a pavement that doesn't just sit there but actually does something for Mother Nature.


Here's what you need to know.

What's the Big Deal?

Pervious concrete is like a giant sponge.

Instead of repelling water and causing runoff, it allows rainwater to conveniently pass through its porous surface right into the soil beneath.

You've got to admit, that's pretty cool, right?

This means:

  • Less surface water runoff. Goodbye, puddles!
  • Reduced need for stormwater management infrastructure.

The Technical Bits:

  • Composition: Cement, water, coarse aggregate, and just a snippet of fine aggregates (if any).
  • Permeability: Some types can let through as much as 5 gallons per square foot per minute.
  • Depth: Stone reservoirs below the surface can be deep enough to store significant amounts of water.

Applications Galore:

  • Sidewalks that sip the rain!
  • Parking lanes with a thirst for stormwater.

And yes, these systems are not just for looks.

They also help the environment by replenishing groundwater and filtering pollutants.

Think about it, you could be walking on a path that's helping to keep our water clean!

Care and Maintenance:

  • Keep it clear: Regular cleaning ensures those tiny pores stay open.

So, there you go.

You can see how pervious concrete systems are part of a clever and eco-friendly approach to managing stormwater.

Next time it rains, watch the water disappear right under your feet and know that it's all part of this amazing system at work!

Urban Tree Canopy Expansion

Have you ever felt relief stepping into the shade of a leafy tree on a hot city day?

Beyond comfort, trees in our urban environments do some seriously heavy lifting when it comes to stormwater management.

Let's branch out into the details!

Trees in cities – they're not just for pretty sidewalks and chirpy birds!

These natural wonders intercept rain in their canopy, slowing down the journey of water as it heads towards the ground.

This means less rainfall pounding directly on pavements and more chance for water to soak into the soil – and not overload our sewers.

Pretty neat, right?

Here's the root of the benefit:

  • Interception: Tree leaves and branches catch and hold rainfall.
  • Reduction: Less stormwater runoff reaches the ground all at once.
  • Infiltration: More water is absorbed into the soil, thanks to trees.

Consider a tree's leaf and branch network as an umbrella for the urban landscape.

For every square inch of leafy canopy, that's a drop of water diverted from storm drains.

That’s important because replacing tree cover – especially over impervious surfaces like concrete – can significantly decrease runoff volumes.

So, what exactly can you do to help your city breathe easier and manage water better?

Get involved in campaigns for urban tree canopy expansion!

This means planting new trees and protecting the tall, leafy elders that have been soaking up stormwater for years.

Placeholder for a simple table, but imagine it shows the impact of trees on stormwater management:

Scenario Impact on Runoff Volume
Trees Over Impervious Surfaces ↓ Decreased Runoff
Added Tree Cover ↓ More Infiltration
Mature Tree Retention ↓ Less Flash Flooding

Whether on public lands or private backyards, every tree planted is a step towards a more resilient city.

While it’s not a silver bullet, expanding urban tree canopies is a smart slice of the stormwater management pie.

Remember, when it rains, it pours – but with enough green umbrellas, we can keep our feet dry and our cities thriving!


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

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