Homeowner Participation

Homeowners and residents may ask "What can I do to decrease stormwater pollution?"

Reducing stormwater pollution isn’t just a job for commercial and residential developers – it is an effort in which all property owners can participate.  Here are some practices and techniques that you can use to decrease the volume of runoff entering our streams, or help to remove pollutants from that runoff.

Disconnect your downspout


If the downspout from your house’s rain gutter system empties directly onto a paved driveway or sidewalk, virtually all of that water (and the dirt, oil, trash, etc. that it picks up along the way) will end up in the City’s storm drainage system and the waterways downstream.  By redirecting the downspout to empty onto a lawn area or a landscaping bed, the runoff will be given an opportunity to infiltrate into the soil.  Click on the photo below to link to tips on downspout disconnection from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

downspout disconnection photo

Harvest your rainwater


Another way to reduce the runoff from your property is to collect and store the water from your roof gutter system.  By catching this water in a rain barrel or cistern, you will not only decrease the volume of runoff that leaves your property, you will have a source of “free” water that can be used for watering or irrigating your gardens and landscaping.  Click on the photo below to link to information on the installation and use of rain barrels from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Rain barrel photo

Install a Rain Garden


A rain garden is a landscaped area in your yard that receives runoff from your roof downspouts, driveways, and other impervious surfaces.  A portion of the runoff is impounded in the rain garden, and allowed to infiltrate into the soil.  In addition to the reduction of runoff and removal of pollutants, rain gardens can be an attractive landscaping element in your yard.  For more information on installing and maintaining a rain garden, click on the photo to link to the University of Maryland Extension Service webpage.

rain garden photo

Plant a tree


Trees offer a number of benefits – they provide shade, shelter for wildlife, absorb carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen, and can increase property values.  However, trees can also play an important part in decreasing stormwater runoff.  Studies have shown that a mature tree can capture as much as 1,400 gallons of rainwater a year in its leaves and branches, and that the tree’s root system helps to loosen soil and increase infiltration.  For more information on tree planting, contact your local Soil Conservation District, or click on the photo below to link to the Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s Tree Planting page.

Tree planting photo

Manage your lawn


Everyone likes the appearance of lush, well-maintained gardens and lawns.  However, the overuse of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides leads to more of these pollutants washing off of these areas and into our streams and waterways.  The maintenance of lawns and gardens can also require a lot of water.  By letting your grass grow longer between mowing cycles, using grass clippings and leaves as garden mulch, using organic fertilizers and pesticides, and installing native plants or implementing xeriscaping techniques, homeowners can cut their water usage and decrease their impact on the environment.  Click on the photo below to link to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s website for tips on “Bay-friendly” lawn and garden care.

Lawn care photo

These websites have additional information on other techniques that homeowners can use to help the City meet its stormwater goals: