What is NATURhoods?
NATURhoods is a community program funded by Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to increase the amount of green infrastructure in Hamilton. The goal is to help reduce the amount of stormwater that flows into the municipal system by empowering local residents to improve their properties with nature-based solutions.
The mission of the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is to build healthy and vibrant communities throughout Ontario by investing in community-based initiatives and strengthening the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector.
What is Green Infrastructure?
A system of intentionally planned natural and semi-natural areas that are designed to deliver a variety of ecosystem services that encourages biodiversity.
Types of Green Infrastructure supported through the NATURhoods program:
Green Venture offers a residential rebate program via NATURhoods. Eligible participants may receive up to $500 for their Green Infrastructure project. Some of the most popular projects are permeable driveways and rain gardens but other features are also covered, including green roofs, rain barrels and more! Have a look at some past projects:
Permeable driveways are eco-friendly alternatives to traditional impermeable driveways because they allow water to infiltrate the ground instead of generating runoff. Permeable driveways can help reduce stormwater runoff, minimize erosion, and recharge groundwater. There are several types of permeable driveways, each with its unique characteristics and advantages. These four are some of the most common types:
- Permeable Pavers: Permeable pavers are specially designed bricks or concrete blocks with gaps between them, allowing rainwater to pass through the surface and into the ground. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, offering design flexibility. These pavers are often laid over a well-prepared base of gravel and geotextile fabric to promote water infiltration.
- Gravel or Crushed Stone Driveways: A gravel or crushed stone driveway consists of a layer of gravel or crushed stone that provides a stable surface for vehicles while allowing rainwater to filter through to the soil below. Gravel driveways are relatively easy to install and can be a cost-effective permeable driveway option.
- Grid Systems: Grid systems, such as plastic or concrete grids, are modular panels or blocks installed on a prepared base. The grids create a surface with open cells that can be filled with gravel, grass, or permeable paving material. These systems provide stability for vehicles while allowing water infiltration and promoting green alternatives.
- Porous Asphalt or Concrete: Porous asphalt and porous concrete are specially designed materials that allow water to pass through their porous structure. These materials are typically installed over a bed of open-graded aggregate that facilitates water infiltration. They provide a solid surface for vehicles and are suitable for driveways.
Permeable driveway in downtown Hamilton
Permeable driveways offer several benefits compared to traditional, impermeable asphalt or concrete driveways. These benefits primarily stem from their ability to allow water to pass through the surface and into the ground, which helps manage stormwater and offers environmental advantages.
Permeable driveway benefits
Permeable driveways allow rainwater to infiltrate the ground rather than running off into storm drains. This reduces the risk of flooding and erosion in the local area. By absorbing and filtering rainwater, permeable surfaces can help improve water quality by reducing the amount of pollutants that enter water bodies, such as oils, heavy metals, and chemicals.
Getting creative with an arbour
Creating an arbor or trellis for a downspout can be a charming and functional addition to your garden or landscape. It can help guide water away from your home’s foundation while adding an attractive element to your outdoor space.
Rain gardens offer several environmental, ecological, and aesthetic benefits when incorporated into urban or residential landscapes. These specially designed gardens are intended to capture, manage, and filter stormwater runoff, ultimately helping to mitigate the negative impacts of urbanization and improve the overall environment. Here are some key benefits of rain gardens:
Rain gardens effectively capture and manage stormwater runoff from rooftops, driveways, and other impermeable surfaces. By allowing water to infiltrate into the soil, they reduce the volume and velocity of runoff, decreasing the risk of localized flooding and erosion.
Water Quality Improvement:
Rain gardens act as natural filtration systems. As rainwater percolates through the soil and plant roots, it is cleansed of pollutants, sediments, and excess nutrients. This helps improve water quality in nearby streams, rivers, and groundwater.
Rain gardens are designed to slow down and spread out the flow of water, reducing erosion in the surrounding area. This helps protect the soil from washing away and contributes to overall landscape stability.
Native plants chosen for rain gardens provide habitat and food for local wildlife, including pollinators like bees and butterflies. Rain gardens can increase biodiversity and create mini-ecosystems within urban environments.r and more resilient urban environment.
Before the downspout redirection
Sometimes, downspouts can interfere with a walking path. Redirecting downspouts is a relatively simple task that can help you manage rainwater and prevent erosion or flooding in specific areas of your property.
Making way for the garden
Removing sod, the top layer of grass and soil, is a common task when you want to prepare an area for landscaping, gardening, or other projects. Before you start digging, you need to get locates and mark the area. Removing sod can be physically demanding, especially for larger areas. Take breaks as needed, and consider enlisting the help of friends or family members if the task becomes too strenuous.
Design with an arbour in mind
Determine where you want to place the arbor to redirect the downspout. Make sure it’s situated in a way that allows the water to flow away from your home’s foundation and into an appropriate drainage area.
A downspout flooding the yard
One of the most common causes of flooding is heavy or prolonged rainfall. When there is more rain than the ground can absorb or when rainfall rates exceed the capacity of rivers and stormwater drainage systems, it can lead to rapid runoff and flooding.
Creating a rain garden
In a rain garden, the inlet is a crucial component of the design that serves to direct and capture rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, driveways, and sidewalks, into the garden. The inlet is designed to efficiently channel and distribute the runoff throughout the rain garden, allowing it to infiltrate into the soil, be naturally filtered, and ultimately recharge the groundwater.
Redirecting water into the rain garden
The inlet is strategically positioned to receive runoff from the surrounding area. It is typically located at a higher elevation than the rest of the rain garden to allow gravity to guide the water flow. The inlet is often integrated into the garden’s landscape design to ensure it blends aesthetically with the surroundings.
Rain garden outlet
The outlet of a rain garden is a key component that allows excess water to leave the garden in a controlled and managed manner. It helps prevent flooding within the rain garden while ensuring that the garden fulfills its purpose of filtering and infiltrating rainwater. To prevent erosion, the outlet area may include erosion control measures such as gravel or stone check dams or riprap. These features help slow down the flow of water leaving the rain garden and prevent soil erosion.
Plants for your rain garden
The type and selection of plants in the rain garden are essential for its functionality. Native plants are often chosen for their ability to thrive in local conditions and their capacity to absorb excess water. Here are some popular plants for residents in Southern Ontario:
- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
- Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
- Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
- New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
- Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
- Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Stones for your rain garden
The size and type of stones you choose will depend on your specific rain garden design and goals. Consider the following options:
- River Rocks or Pebbles: Small river rocks or pebbles can be used for a decorative surface layer in the rain garden. They can also help slow down water and reduce erosion.
- Crushed Stone or Gravel: Crushed stone or gravel can be used in the bottom of the rain garden to aid in drainage and prevent soil erosion.
- Boulders: Large boulders can be strategically placed for structural support, to create focal points, or to slow down water flow.