Storm Water Best Practices

Mary Washington’s storm water management plan is an extensive study of how storm water running off of our campus affects the world around us. Use these tips to minimize hard runoff from your property. These tips are probably more useful for community members or students living off campus.

Improving your soil

If your land has soils that have been altered away from their natural state, native plants may not grow as well in them. To determine this, you should test your soil every three years. Soil tests can be obtained from the the Virginia Cooperative Extension agent.

Preventing Soil erosion

Soil erosion occurs when soil particles are carried off by wind or water. In addition to the soil, runoff can wash fertilizer and pollutants along with it. Nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers carried off by runoff have been associated with many environmental problems including benthic hypoxia and euthrophication. There are several steps you can take to minimize soil erosion on your property:

1. Fix bare spots on your lawn or property.

2. Avoiding soil splashes on windows or outside walls.

3. Rid your lawn of dirt puddles.

4. Remove small rills or gullies on slopes.


To minimize having potentially harmful materials from leaving your land, how your land drains needs to be looked at. Here are some helpful tips for improving your drainage situation.

1) Runoff- Water runs off faster around your house than it would in a natural area. To minimize ‘hard’ runoff as it is known, put some rain barrels out, consider a green roof or green paving.

2) Aerate your lawn. It will improve drainage and help your grass grow better.


Choose the right plant for the right place! Your best bet is to find a local nursery with a knowledgable staff. Native plants usually grow faster and fit better into the natural landscape.