Here in St. Louis, at the confluence of the two greatest rivers on the continent with a seemingly endless supply of water, we often do not think about the active role we have in determining the quantity and quality of our water.
Still, the way in which we manage our own landscape can have a significant impact on both.
Lawn irrigation can be the single, largest use of water in the typical suburban home-from 20-50% of all household use and as much as 10,000 gallons of water a year. In contrast, native plant landscapes of shrubs, trees and wildflowers that are adapted to our climate typically require no supplemental watering once they are established. That means real savings on your water bill, and more water is retained in the rivers for wildlife and downstream communities.
In a natural landscape, rainfall runoff is filtered and cleansed by the vegetation and the soil as gravity pulls it toward the rivers or into the groundwater. However, in a typical developed landscape, the natural filters have been removed, and rainfall collects trash, oils, grass clippings, fertilizers and other chemicals as it rushes off our many hard surfaces into the creeks and rivers. A typical city block generates nine times as much runoff as a similar sized chunk of woodland, and even a suburban lot can produce three times as much runoff as the natural landscape.
There are many, often simple, ways for you to improve the quality of the rainfall that runs off your property-ultimately improving the quality of the water in our rivers for us and the environment. The Bring Conservation Home technicians will provide you with suggestions appropriate for your landscape on their site visit. For additional info, check out some of the links we provided below.
Reduce/eliminate pesticide use
- National Audubon’s 10 Steps for Responsible Pesticide Use
- National Audubon’s Water Quality Action Plan
Replace standard driveways or sidewalks with pervious pavement or pavers
Consider a green roof installation
Plant large canopy trees for wildlife and to slow the rain
Build a rain garden
- Rain garden calculator and design tool
- MO Botanical Garden’s Rain Garden Guide
- Kansas City areas 10,000 Rain GardensGuide
Install a rain barrel and such
- River des Peres Watershed Coalition
- STL Metropolitan Sewer District rain barrel info
- Local retailer for rainwater systems
General water quality information
When you are ready to join us in building urban wildlife habitat, complete the survey request form and the Program Coordinator will contact you for appointment scheduling.