How can I landscape my yard in ways to reduce runoff and protect the environment?

Planting Trees

Planting trees is one way to protect land and local streams from the damage caused by excessive runoff and erosion. Trees have long been appreciated for their beauty, but their help in minimizing erosion is not as well known. Landscaping by planting shrubs, trees and ground covers has definite environmental benefits and enhances the appearance and value of property. Realtors suggest that mature trees increase the value of homes as well as the speed of sale.

Plants and trees can create outdoor rooms where you and your family can work and play. Well-planned landscaping can reduce heating and cooling costs for your house by as much as 30%. New shrubs and trees may attract birds and wildlife. Trees, shrubs and ground cover also require less maintenance than grass. Because trees and shrubs require less fertilizer and fewer herbicides than grass, the chances of polluting streams is minimized.

Landscaping for Wildlife

Another possibility is landscaping for wildlife. By selecting appropriate plants, landscaping can both reduce water pollution and serve wildlife. Four basic elements are needed for wildlife: food, water, shelter and space. 

  • Food can be supplied through vegetation that provides seeds, nuts or berries. 
  • Water, if not available nearby as a stream or lake, can be provided as a small pool or pond. 
  • Vegetation, a pond or even a brush pile can serve as shelter, providing protection from predators and the weather. 
  • Space needs vary among wildlife but include enough room to reproduce, find food and carry on the different stages of their life cycle. 

The specifics depend on whether you are trying to attract a variety of wildlife or a certain species, such as butterflies or hummingbirds. For more information, contact:
Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife
CN 400
Trenton, NJ 08625-0400

Environmentally Sensitive Landscape

An environmentally sensitive landscape reduces the erosive force of rainwater runoff and increases the value of your home. By planting trees, shrubs and ground cover, you encourage excess rainwater to filter slowly into the soil instead of flowing directly into storm drains or nearby streams. Choosing trees and plants that are appropriate for your soil and growing conditions will ensure that you will have a beautiful yard.

Further Information

For more information on landscaping, visit Clear Water New Jersey chapter on Lawn and Garden Care.

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?