For homeowners, rain has a dual role: Too much, and there’s a risk of floods and leaks. Not enough, and barren landscapes, sky-rocketing water bills, and foundation damage can result.
“The lack of water falling out of the sky creates a situation where homeowners need to spend a significant amount of money on water,” says Matt Daly, the owner and principal designer at Water and Earth Landscape Design in the Bay Area. Otherwise, plants may die or become susceptible to pests.
Here in the West, we’re all too familiar with a rainfall shortage. Currently, 86 percent of Montana is experiencing extreme drought, and much of California is grappling with water shortages in the face of severe drought. Often, dry conditions are accompanied by extreme rain events, which can lead to flash floods and mudslides, not to mention property damage.
These weather swings between extremely dry and torrential downpours makes it necessary for homeowners to both make the most of every drop and to protect their home from storms. Here’s how.
Incorporate permeable paving.
Storm drains serve an essential purpose: They remove water from streets and roads to reduce flood risk. But, as water travels over impermeable surfaces en route to drains, it picks up debris, pet waste, and pollutants, which eventually flow into local waterways.
As a homeowner, make it your mission to divert water from entering these drains—and the lakes, rivers, and oceans down the line. One strategy: Replace impermeable surfaces, such as concrete, with porous or pervious ones, which enable water to slowly, effectively penetrate the ground below.
Permeable pavers are really popular, Daly says. They’re installed "in such a way that there's a joint in between with a fine gravel that lets the water pass through and stay on the property,” he says. Alternatives to impermeable pavement include:
- Pervious asphalt
- Pervious concrete
- Interlocking pavers
- Plastic grid pavers