What can we do in our homes and neighbourhoods?
There are lots of ways we can add a bit more green into our towns and cities, giving nature and natural process a little more space.
They range from small adjustments to the way in which we live our daily lives to bigger changes to our environment – but each of them is a step towards a greener, more resilient city.
Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)
Paved surfaces cause water to rush into our sewers and rivers. The traditional ways of managing our rainwater have advantages and disadvantages (read more here), but typically cause problems when there is heavy rain.
We need new and better ways of managing rainfall. Luckily, nature shows us an alternative!
Raingardens, ponds, wetlands, and other ‘Sustainable Drainage’ (SuDS) features are green spaces where rainwater can collect & slowly soak into the ground.
Keeping water at the surface and allowing it to slowly soak into the ground or drain away over a longer time-period eases pressure on the drainage system and reduces the risk of water pollution and flooding. SuDS features are also great for wildlife and are an interesting and attractive addition to your home, garden, street or local space.
Look for your downpipe
Downpipes take rainwater from your roof to the drainage system. However, you can adjust them to divert the water to a water butt, for use on your garden, or to a raingarden. If you’ve not got much space, a raingarden planter can be a way of slowing the flow of the water to the drain. You can get tips and download a free guide to building your own raingarden here!
Plus, if your water company is Wessex Water, and you can prove that most of the rainwater from your property doesn’t drain to a public sewer you might be entitled to a reduction in your sewerage bill!
Have you got space for a raingarden?
If you have a garden which slopes down from your house, you can divert water from hard surfaces into a sunken raingarden. Or in areas which quickly form puddles you could create a wildlife pond. These features will slow the flow of water and be a beautiful addition to your garden!
Raingardens need to be at least 3m from any buildings, and the size can be varied depending on the paved area you are taking water from. As a rule, go for 20% of the size of the paved area. For more detailed instructions, download a free guide to building your own raingarden here!
Depave your front garden
Make the most of your front garden by giving it a green makeover! If you need space to park your car, consider permeable paving or gravel so that rainwater can still soak into the ground. Plus, if you just pave the areas where the car sits, you can make some space for grasses, flowers or shrubs. Even if gardening isn’t your thing, the Royal Horticultural Society has some tips for low maintenance gardening, so you can brighten up your front garden with only a little effort!
Have a look around your neighbourhood
Chat to your neighbours and think about if there are places in your local area which always end up as huge puddles when it rains, or if there are areas which are just a little grey and could do with sprucing up… What about your local school? Taking action in your local area can bring people together as well as reducing flooding and bringing a little more green into our towns! Plus, visit our get involved or news pages to see if we’re working near your neighbourhood. If we’re not, get in touch via the email address at the top of this page to suggest somewhere we could work!
Below, is an overview of some of the more technical nature-based solutions that can be used in towns and cities. Move over the image of an urban landscape below to find out more about how these interventions work and where you might find them in a city. You can also find out much more on the Local Action Project website.
Are you misconnected?
Make sure that you are not contributing to water pollution in your local river. Misconnected sewers lead foul water directly into streams and rivers, with detrimental effects on wildlife. If you are the property owner, you are responsible for fixing misconnections!