If you live in the Rock Creek Watershed, you can take steps on your property to protect Rock Creek.
The biggest threat to the creek is the storm drain system--or more accurately the huge volume of water that runs off our rooftops, driveways, patios, and sidewalks into the storm drain system when it rains. This runoff washes trash, dirt, fertilizer, pesticides, road salt, and other pollutants directly into the nearest creek. The storm drain system turns Rock Creek and its tributaries into raging torrents that scour the stream banks, upending trees and sending tons of dirt and pollution into the creek.
The key is to capture rain water to soak into the ground on your property--before it reaches the gutter and goes down the storm drain. Think of your property as a giant sponge that can capture water and filter out pollutants.
Shrink Your Footprint
- Minimize the area covered by hard materials that don't allow rain to soak in naturally. Have a smaller patio, sidewalk, driveway, or even house!
- Where you need a patio, sidewalk, or driveway, try pervious pavers instead of concrete, asphalt, or stone. You can also set stone pathways and patios in sand rather than in concrete.
- Where possible, use native plants as ground cover, or pea gravel.
- Reduce the area covered by grass. Grass roots form a dense mat; the same root structure that allows sod to be cut and rolled up also keeps water from soaking in. Replace turf lawns with deep-rooted native grasses, perennials, and shrubs that allow for greater infiltration.
- Click here for more information.
Stabilize Your Soil and Slopes
Dirt is one of the major pollutants in Rock Creek. Help keep the soil in your yard--and out of the storm drain--by covering any bare dirt. Use plants for the long term and straw or mulch for dirt that is exposed temporarily. Click here for some ideas for dealing with those annoying slopes!
Redirect Your Downspouts
Water from your roof runs into gutters and then through downspouts on the side of your house. These downspouts should take rain at least four feet away from your house or the water could end up in your basement. But people often pipe that water all the way to a sidewalk or driveway, where it goes into the storm drain system and straight to the nearest creek. This is generally unnecessary--and bad for the creek. Redirect your downspouts to flow somewhere that the rain can soak in, such as a mulched bed, rain barrel, or rain garden discussed below. Click here for more information.
Get Rain Barrels
Attach rain barrels to your downspouts. They capture rain, which you can use to water your plants. Rain barrels save money on water bills and are a great way to store water for use in dry weather. Click here for more information.
Use Native Plants and Trees
Native plants--those that grow naturally in this region--are both drought-resistant and have deep roots that soak up lots of water. They also attract songbirds and butterflies. Click here for more information. Beautiful native trees, such as oaks, maples and black gums, capture rain with their roots and canopies.
Install a Rain Garden
A rain garden is a depressed garden bed filled with a soil mixture that will hold water and allow it to infiltrate slowly into the ground. The garden is planted with deep-rooted native plants that adapted to wet ground conditions. This is a wonderful way to beautify your yard, attract songbirds and butterflies, and reduce pollution and erosion in your local creek. For information on rain gardens and garden templates, click here. When you're looking at templates, you will be given a choices for Piedmont and Coastal Plain templates. You may want to check the Geology section of our website--the dividing line between these two regions is right along Rock Creek!