Sustainable Solutions For Water and Landscape On Your Home Site

Sustainable Solutions For Water and Landscape On Your Home SiteWater is liquid gold

Water is wonderful stuff and required for life, yet it can also be a huge source of damage and hassle.  Water is powerful stuff – not just in chemical make-up but in its force. In the war between water and rock, water always wins; the Grand Canyon was created through erosion. Water can be violent – just think of beaches and how sand is created from repeated wave action.

How your home interacts with the land it sits on is largely influenced by water, and not only moisture, but storm-water and erosion. Planning for that water with landscape and other features helps your land to help your home and vice versa. There are so many different angles to consider with water and how it affects our homes and the land our homes sit on. Let’s start with managing and using storm-water and landscape.

Picture of our sustainable backyard in progress! put the magnitude of water in perspective, just look at  a map of watershed – rivers, tributaries and creeks – to see how far reaching water is and how it supports us with drinking water, irrigation and transportation.  Storm-water is vital to replenishing our watershed.

Communities have to manage storm-water in some way and most are dealing with more and more runoff from increased amount of developed and paved land, as well as aging infrastructure.  Each of us can help by keeping some storm-water on our land and helping it percolate back through the ground. This could be a rain garden or even a rain barrel (and use the water for gardens later).

A lot of little steps create a bigger solution

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Drainage swales and grading can affect an entire neighborhood/community since this is infrastructure that is built as part of the bigger plan. If you are doing something that changes the flow of water, need to let your community know, as it could affect the overall plan and results.

What can we, as homeowners, do? Be sure to check with local rules first. Rain barrels are a great way to store rainwater for future use, but their use has been challenged in some parts of the country.

Many homes in OKC don’t have gutters completely around homes since it doesn’t rain as much in OKC. Gutters protect land, yard, walls and foundation of house. Can also use run off for filling rain barrels. A two-fer! That’s a value proposition.

Do things that are best for the environment while also protecting the asset of the house

Rain gardens are another way to hold water in your yard. In St. Louis, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) has been working in partnership with communities to encourage rain gardens around St. Louis and we’ve seen a large rain garden in St. Louis built by MSD.

Permeable concrete used to be talked about a lot and don’t hear so much now and we aren’t sure why. It has small holes in the concrete so water can flow through and it drains more like pavers or gravel. Consider installing pavers in your yard/landscape rather than concrete to help the water drain naturally.

Experience of DIY as Marla work on their yard and property. Wanted to make corrections. Already had set of priorities and knew what we wanted and has really helped guide us in choices we are making as we get our home to fit our lifestyle.

We (me, Marla and Scott) have had an opportunity to put some of this in practice as we’ve our designed and planted our backyard. We found Olthia in Edmond OK and Jamie, the owner, specializes in urban prairies. She designed a concept and plan for us complete with recommended plants and we are now working through that plan. We knew we wanted as sustainable of a yard as we could and one that fit our lifestyle with less maintenance and less hassle. That was in our list of priorities for our home.

 We want to enjoy our yard rather than be a slave to it and that means not as much mowing, watering, or chemicals

Jamie’s concept includes a drought resistant tree, wildflowers to attract butterflies and birds, low-maintenance lawn, shed and compost area, and area for vegetable beds. It is enough for us to “putter” in it yet not so much to be a slave to it once it is established.

All the little steps over time really add up.  

One step at a time – our green odyssey.


Upcycle 55 GALLON GRAY Rain Barrel

Great American Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel Rain Station

All of these resources and more can be found inside your free account at

Stormwater Management for Homeowners
Homeowners Guide to Stormwater Management
Stormwater Management for Homeowners

Native Landscape Materials
Ways to go Green in Your Lawn and Garden
, Missouri Botanical Gardens
Native Plant Database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Native Plant Network

Low-Maintenance and Low-Water Lawn Grass Options

Low-Water Use and Xeriscaping
Outdoor Water Use Around Your Home, WaterSense
Xeriscaping, National Geographic
Water Smart Landscapes, WaterSense

Organic Pest Control
Control Insects Without Pesticides
Natural Insect Pest Control
Top Ten Garden Insect Pests (and ways to control them)

Organic Deicers: 
Choose Safer De-icing Chemicals
Sidewalk de-icers: effective AND safe?

Organic Fertilizers
Organic Fertilizer and Soil Amendment Guide
Organic Fertilizers

And the company Marla used to do the concept and plan of her new back yard Olthia in Edmond OK


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