a wooden bench sitting in the middle of a garden

Backyard Landscaping Project

“During the first rain storm after moving to our new address, we were shocked to find we had a river running through the middle of our back yard lawn! We wanted to do everything we could to manage the storm water in a responsible, ecologically sound way,” said Jennifer DeVille, a Towson resident in the Herring Run watershed.

She added, “Thus began months of research into rain gardens, water management, native plantings and permaculture best practices. Our goals included moving the water away from the house, channeling it, and planting as many native species with deep roots to filter and/or absorb the water. We’ve learned so much from this project, especially how many different ways exist to capture water and prevent run off from going directly to the storm drains!”


Jennifer contacted Blue Water Baltimore to perform a water audit to have her property assessed for ways to reduce water runoff and to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly landscape in her yard. At Blue Water Baltimore, we were fortunate to work with her not only in the water audit program, but at Herring Run Nursery, our Native Plant Lectures, and our Rain Barrel program! Jennifer continued outlining the process to transform her backyard and stated the following:

Blue Water Baltimore served as an invaluable resource for information on rain gardens and conservation landscaping as well as an inspiration to get it done and to get it done right!

Since we were in the middle of a renovation, the backyard was completely torn up. We had a Bobcat excavator grade the yard to slope slightly toward the middle, where it dug a shallow trench across the yard. We then amended the soil by adding 10 yards of topsoil and five yards of compost. This created a swale to which we added Maryland river stones to make a river bed look.

Finally we got to the fun part: the plants! In the fall I went on a shopping spree at Herring Run Nursery picking up as many natives as I could afford including several white turtleheads, St. John’s wort and red osier Dogwood bushes, northern blue flag irises, purple coneflowers, false indigos and New England asters. Once the plants were in, I added a few inches of mulch around them hoping to help them get established.

I highly recommend working with Blue Water Baltimore–every conversation is a learning experience. We’re excited to have our rain barrels installed by Blue Water Baltimore, and the rebate we earned will be spent at Herring Run Nursery on “green mulches” to establish native ground covers that will take over the job of mulching in the future.


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