Spring is a wonderful time for home Retain Your Rain projects! Even as we are practicing social distancing during this Coronavirus Pandemic, we are still finding ways to safely engage with the community to encourage Retain Your Rain projects. Below are some of the initial steps that we have taken with community partners. Take a look at these steps to help get you started with your home Retain Your Rain Projects!
Observe your property
Are there spots that stay wet for longer periods; are there signs of water damage on certain parts of your building; are there areas of your yard that are more eroded than others; how much sun does your property get? Also, take a look at what’s happening while it’s raining- is the water flowing in a certain direction; is there additional water coming onto your land from neighboring lots; is water absorbing into the ground or flowing off of your lawn?
Test Your Soil
There are two types of tests that are helpful. First, soil boring is a great way to learn about your soil profile. In the picture we are using an auger boring technique. It is a simple and cost-effective technique that can be used on almost all soil types. Depending on the length of your auger, you can dig down between five and eight feet and see the soil profile along the way. This will tell you some preliminary information about the ground’s ability to drain. Second, if you are going to be planting in your soil, you should test the nutrient profile. Soil testing is done through Virginia Cooperative Extension. Results will tell you the fertility and the pH of your soil, as well as give you recommendations on how to amend your soil. This will help you determine what plants are best suited for your land and what types of amendments you may need. Contact your local extension agent to obtain a soil test kit and for information and resources for soil boring.
Consider Your Interests
What do you prefer to see in your yard and what is going to work best for your lifestyle? If you are looking to improve the aesthetic of your land, but do not want to deal with a lot of maintenance, planting low maintenance trees and natives could work for you. The Native Plants for Southwest Virginia Guide is a great place to look for inspiration. If you are interested in producing food, you could capture the water in rain barrels or cisterns and use it to water your vegetable garden. You could also plant fruit trees and perennials. Perhaps you want as little maintenance as possible. Then installing a dry well could be a great option. It will store water underground and allow it to slowly seep back into the ground and water table.
After going through these initial steps and getting a better feel for your land, take a look at our website for more information on how to execute each of the different Retain Your Rain projects. And remember, every little bit counts! When you capture the rain that hits your land, you are reducing the amount of water that goes directly into the drain system and thus eliminating some of the flooding caused by storm water. You are also contributing to the overall health of local waterways by allowing the water to be filtered before it enters the drain system. All the while, beautifying your yard and your neighborhood!