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Native plants and pollinators shown in a suburban setting

Protecting the Rouge in Your Yard

Explore below how you can protect the Rouge River, right in your own backyard! Each step provides measurable benefit for your creek. Together, they add up to a realized vision that contributes towards a clean and vibrant Rouge River at the center of our community.

Green Landscaping

standard landscape

Standard, high-impact home landscape

Green landscaping for clean streams

A realized vision: green landscaping for clean streams—applicable to all houses, no matter how far from the river

Sustainable Landscaping

Yard - Ecological benefits of green landscaping

A landscape created with Green Landscaping for Clean Streams techniques is designed to improve water quality and wildlife habitat and is much more sustainable. Plantings are clustered. Steep slopes are vegetated with deep-rooted native flowers and grasses. Rain gardens retain water from the home’s downspouts. Stream-side vegetation reduces streambank erosion. Habitat is created for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

Learn more about Green Landscaping for Clean Streams HERE

Reducing Stormwater Runoff

Disconnect Downspouts

Photo of a yard gutter downspout
Reduce the amount of rain water that flows to the sewer system. You will need to:

  • Cut the downspout
  • Plug or cap the sewer pipe
  • Add an elbow piece and gutter extension to direct the flow into a rain garden, rain barrel or vegetated area
Harvest Rainwater

Photo of a yard rain barrelSave money by watering your lawn, gardens and houseplants with rain water. Save the river from receiving too much rain water during wet weather. More information HERE.

To install a rain barrel:

  • Determine a location for your rain barrel
  • Place the barrel on cinder blocks or another elevated surface that is strong enough to support the barrel full of water
  • Cut the downspout
  • Place an elbow piece on the downspout and/or an extension to direct the water to flow into the barrel
Install a Rain Garden

Photo of a man showing his Yard Rain GardenThese shallow dish shaped gardens are designed to retain rain water for up to 48 hours. Much of the rain water is taken in by the plants, transpired back to the atmosphere or infiltrates deep into the ground. Rain gardens provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other important pollinators. More Information HERE.

Create Native Wildflower Gardens

Photo of a Native plant with Butterfly on itReplacing lawns with native gardens helps to improve water quality and wildlife habitat. The deep roots of many native plants provide a way for rain water to soak deep into the ground. The plants provide food (seed, pollen, nectar, leaves, etc) and shelter for birds, butterflies and other important pollinators. More information:

Reduce Imperviousness

Photo of a sample of pervious pavementPervious pavers or pervious cement are great alternatives to traditional cement and asphalt for drives and walkways. Consider using these materials when replacing your drive, patio or sidewalk. These products allow rain water to permeate through the material rather than run off the landscape and into the river.

Reducing Streambank Erosion

Yard bufferA cost effective method to reduce streambank erosion and save riverfront property is to plant deep-rooted native wildflowers and grasses. The fibrous root systems create a living mesh that will help hold the soil in place. Native trees and shrubs provide shade in warm months, which is important to keep water temperature from rising and dissolved oxygen levels from falling too low to support life in the stream.

Stabilizing the Toe (Bottom of the Streambank)

Coir logCoir logs or large woody debris can be staked in to reduce localized erosion at the toe of the bank. This may be necessary to allow native vegetation to become established in erosion prone areas. Erosion control blankets may also be necessary to protect plantings from washing away in high water. A permit from MDEQ is required before this work can be completed. More information:

Managing Woody Debris

Managing Woody Debris diagramIn the recent past, logjams were presumed to be a significant problem in urban rivers, such as the Rouge River, and were completely removed from stream channels. New studies have now shown that properly managed logjams help reduce erosion, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and are an important part of a river system's natural processes. More information:

Reducing Nonpoint Source Pollution

Label for fertilizerMany of the herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used by gardeners today are harmful to the environment and should never be used near waterways. Excess nutrients from lawn fertilizers harm rivers and lakes. Opt for healthier alternatives for you and your family. More information:

Pick up Pet Waste

Graphic of dog picking up their own wastePick up pet waste before rainy weather or snow melt to prevent bacteria from entering the river through the storm sewer. Many communities in the Rouge watershed have separate storm sewers that collect rain water from streets and parking lots and discharge directly to the Rouge River. The water isn't treated and rain water picks up lots of pollutants from lawns, parking lots, roads and highways.

Conserving Water

Photo of a composterCompost provides nutrients and improves garden soil. Composting is easy and saves waste from being trucked to a landfill or a composting facility. Compost acts like a sponge and soaks up lots of rainwater.

How to do it:

  • Create a compost pile or purchase a commercial composter
  • Add soil, grass clippings, leaves, garden waste, and some food waste (no meats, oils, dairy)
  • Visit the SOCWA Lawn & Garden website for more composting information (www.socwa.org) Composting flyer

Mulch Garden Beds

Photo of yard mulchMulch helps to retain moisture in the garden and helps to reduce weeds. Mulch also keeps gardens looking fresh and cared for.