Residents in Virginia and the Carolinas have experienced their fair share of rainfall over the past few months, most recently with the arrival of hurricanes Florence and Michael. In many cases, the ground was already saturated, leaving no place for the rain to go causing home and property damage.

In a new publication series, "Stormwater Management for Homeowners," Virginia Cooperative Extension provides information on how homeowners can use different practices in their landscapes to manage stormwater and protect their property from damage in the future.

“The main goal of this six-part series is to motivate homeowners and help them manage stormwater more effectively whenever rainstorms occur,” said Laurie Fox, a horticulture research associate at Virginia Tech. Fox and her colleagues address various practices commonly used in residential landscapes such as rooftop redirection, rain barrels, permeable pavement, grass swales, rain gardens, and buffers.

Fox, who works at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Virginia Beach, encourages home and property owners to remember what they do makes a difference. “It doesn’t have to be expensive or labor or maintenance intensive,” she said.

For most properties, the biggest sources of rainfall hit roofs and driveways, said Fox. If stormwater stays in the landscape, it can soak into the ground, be used by plants, or evaporate into the atmosphere. If rainwater is collected in a rain barrel, the water can be used later for activities like watering plants, washing cars, and filling fish ponds. If the stormwater is not funneled into the storm drain with all the other stormwater running off streets, parking lots, and other properties, the total volume will be reduced, which helps reduce flooding and pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. 

Fox hopes that people can learn from this useful series. “No matter what you do, how big or small, to manage stormwater in your landscape, collectively it makes a positive impact on the community.”

The goal is to slow stormwater down and spread it out into the landscape or collect it for later use as close to the source as possible. 

The publication series is free and may be downloaded from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Publications and Resources website.

For additional information on numerous other topics, visit Virginia Cooperative Extension or contact your local VCE office. Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program of Virginia's land-grant universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, and a part of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

— Written by Michael Craddock, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.