Home & Garden

Low impact development? In gardening? Yes!

One of the many benefits of keeping storm water on your property is a lower water bill.
One of the many benefits of keeping storm water on your property is a lower water bill.

Here’s a scholarly expression I bet you never thought you’d hear in a discussion about gardening: Low impact development practices. Abbreviated as LID, the concept covers gardening aspects such as site planning, land use, hydrology, and erosion and sediment control.

In a nutshell, LID includes an innovative approach to storm water management that goes against the current practice of storm water disposal, where runoff is conveyed to costly water treatment facilities or rushes into local creeks.

Instead, water is captured close to its source using small, cost-effective landscape features to implement infiltration, storage and evaporation. This principle models the way nature managed rainfall at its source before urban development covered up all the soil and caused this thing called runoff.

Want to learn more about this absorbing topic? Join the UC Master Gardeners at their monthly Advice To Grow By Workshop this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon for an engaging lecture and demonstration of the LID features incorporated into their demonstration garden. The garden is at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, behind the county building at the corner of Johnson and Bishop.

At this workshop, Master Gardeners will present an overview of LID storm water practices and principles and will discuss topics such as downspout disconnects, rain barrels, soils and plant materials, cisterns, rain gardens, and retention basins.

You also will be able to inspect the LID features installed in the garden, including a large retention basin that absorbs water to prevent runoff, a rain garden with specially engineered soil and plants designed to allow water to soak in, and a “cistern” that is a rain barrel that stores water fed to it via rain gutters.

Also, Master Gardeners will dig a hole, add water, and teach you how to do a percolation test that measures the movement of water through the soil in order to determine its suitability for LID techniques.

Among the many benefits of keeping storm water on your property: a lower water bill when you use captured water for yard irrigation; reduced amount of pollution that reaches waterways; and help in recharging groundwater aquifers. These methods also can add aesthetic interest to your yard.