September 5th, 2013 by

Stormwater runoff

Stormwater runoff. Credit: thanh.ha.dang/Flickr

Last month, we joined our friends, American Rivers, in helping to spread the news of the importance of green infrastructure and encourage the EPA to update its approach to managing stormwater runoff. Green infrastructure, which is part of the urban forest, captures rainwater and allows it to be absorbed into trees, roots and soil, rather than running off paved surfaces, picking up pollution and sediment on its way to waterways. Many of you helped work to make a difference by telling your representatives to put pressure on the EPA to modernize their approach to stormwater.

But if you’re a homeowner, you can also make a difference right now, where you live, by employing green infrastructure tactics on your own property. Green infrastructure isn’t just for public works. In fact, trees and plants on private property are an important part of the urban forest.

A rain garden on a private lawn

A rain garden on a private lawn. Credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

If you’re interested in implementing stormwater runoff control in your own yard, the EPA has a tool to help you get started: the stormwater calculator. Enter information about your property and the types of green infrastructure practices you use or would like to use — such as rain harvesting, rain gardens, green roofs or street planters — and the calculator will estimate the amount of your stormwater runoff. It can answer questions like how much daily rainfall your current or planned green infrastructure can prevent from running off into streams and waterways.

If you enjoy learning about the environmental impacts and benefits of your yard, you don’t have to stop at stormwater runoff. Check out our carbon calculator to learn what your home’s carbon footprint is and how many trees you could plant to offset it. And if you don’t have the space or means for planting new trees, we’ve got you covered. Support American Forests. We’ve already planted more than 45 million trees through Global ReLeaf and our other tree restoration programs, many in the urban forest, and we’ll be planting many more.