How can I reduce runoff?

There are inexpensive ways to control excess runoff created by patios, driveways, sidewalks and roofs. Whatever the soil drainage condition in your neighborhood, landscaping and careful grading of your property’s surface area can be used to control runoff, reduce its speed and increase the time over which it is released. For example, land immediately adjacent to your house needs to have a downhill slope so that water does not seep through the foundation. Once the water has been carried 10 feet from the house, the surface should be graded so that runoff is released gradually.

Suggestions for Decreasing Runoff & Ground Water Infiltration

Surface runoff can be decreased and ground water infiltration increased by following these suggestions:

  • Install gravel trenches along driveways or patios to collect stormwater and filter it into the soil.
  • Plant sod on bare patches in your lawn as soon as possible to avoid erosion.
  • Grade all areas away from your house at a gentle slope.
  • Use a grass swale, which is a man-made depression, to move water from one area to another.
  • Plant shrubs and trees to promote infiltration (see chapter on lawn and garden care).
  • If you are building a new home or in a position to consider regrading your property, you may want to create a basin, which will hold all runoff and allow it to infiltrate the soil over a longer period of time. This should be done only where drainage is good. 
  • Alternatively, you may be able to create a gently rolling surface or a system of berms, or mounds, and swales to slow run-off. 

Berms, Swales & Basins

Berms and swales are slight elevations and depressions in the surface that provide channels along which water will flow. If you have a wet area, you may be able to move the basin to a less used area of the yard - around shrubs or trees, for example - by installing a swale to carry the water across the yard. Be advised that most activities performed in regulated wetlands require a permit. 

Contact the Department of Environmental Protection Land Use Regulation for information at 609-292-0060. Plant trees and shrubs that thrive in wet soils in the new wet area.

Show All Answers

1. Where does stormwater go?
2. Why has stormwater runoff become such a problem?
3. How can I reduce runoff?
4. What is an impervious surface?
5. How can I landscape my yard in ways to reduce runoff and protect the environment?
6. What are some simple changes I can make to protect our waters?