Sustainable Landscaping

intro to the basics
1   choose the right plant for the right spot
2   recycle your yard waste
3   use fertilizers and pesticides responsibly
4   water wisely
5   reduce runoff from your yard and increase groundwater recharge
6   reduce soil erosion. keep it planted and mulched
7   pick up after your pets
8   use and dispose of fuels and hazardous products properly


This restores balance in the water cycle, replenishes groundwater, reduces flooding, and protects water quality.

Rain Garden - North Kingstown Town Hall

It is estimated that only about 10% of the precipitation that falls on a forest leaves as surface runoff. The rest either evaporates or soaks into the ground where it becomes groundwater. Groundwater slowly discharges to surface waters, providing a certain amount of base flow. This is why large surface water bodies do not go completely dry during periods of little to no rain.

Learn more about the water cycle - click here.

As watersheds become developed, urbanization and an increase in paved surface areas such as parking lots, driveways and rooftops will change the water flow in the environment. More and more precipitation “runs off,” traveling quickly to surface water bodies, which results in:

- Overall reduction in groundwater recharge

- Long-term lowering of groundwater tables and loss of stream flow during dry weather

- Increased erosion of stream banks

- Increased water quality impacts caused by pollutants associated with urban runoff

- Flooding—especially more frequent “flash” flooding

Learn more about stormwater basics - click here

To reduce the amount of surface runoff leaving your yard:

Home Landscape Improvements for Water Quality Protection - publication

Use vegetative plantings, mulch, or crushed stone to create buffers and borders along buildings, driveways and streets. This will help to capture rainfall and surface runoff and to settle and filter it.
Consider installing a rain garden to control and settle roof and other surface runoff within your yard.
Maintain natural vegetation or shoreland buffers around surface water edges and wetlands. Consider limiting the areas that are maintained for access and view.

Smith's Castle Demonstration Site

If you have natural woodlands on your property, consider leaving them and learn more about woodscaping options.
Limit the amount of paved surfaces in your yard and consider using permeable paving materials for driveways, patios, and walkways.

Smith's Castle Demonstration Site

URI Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (URI CE Water Quality Program) -- visit their publication page and look for porous pavement series.

UConn NEMO page on reducing runoff - low impact development

Use rain barrels or cisterns to collect and store rainwater during the growing season for watering plants.
Proper livestock yard and pasture management.

For more information about reducing stormwater runoff and increasing groundwater recharge

Healthy Landscapes pages:
Rain Gardens--enhancing your home landscape and protecting water quality
Rain Barrels
How to Build and Install a Rain Barrel
Information about Cisterns
Livestock best management practices

Healthy Landscapes Demonstration Sites

URI CE Home*A*Syst Program factsheets:

Home Landscape Improvements for Water Quality Protection

Shoreland Buffers and Water Quality Protection

Today's Forest, Tomorrow's Legacy: A Guide for Small Acreage Woodland Owners

Understanding water movement and the water cycle

URI Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (URI CE Water Quality Program) -- visit their publication page and look for their porous pavement series.

RI Stormwater Solutions

UConn NEMO page on reducing runoff - low impact development