(Photo: a reflection of a village in a body of water)

Village Reflections Photo by the Clean Foundation

Managing Stormwater on Your Property

The Clean Foundation’s guide to preventing flooding in your yard and harvesting rainwater for your gardens.

When it rains, it pours…but you can be ready.

When it rains, it pours…but you can be ready.

Rainwater can’t soak into surfaces like driveways and roads, and instead runs off into streets and storm sewers, and takes with it a number of pollutants like oils, fertilizers, salt, dirt and garbage. Minor landscaping changes on your property can drastically help manage stormwater. Not only can you reduce the potential of flooding on your property, you can also harvest rainwater for your gardens. Reducing runoff also minimizes the impact on lakes and streams, and helps encourage rainwater to soak into the ground to recharge our groundwater aquifers.

Landscaping & Gardening

Lot Grading

Lot grading alters the slope of a property to direct water away from buildings and toward areas where water retention is preferred. This can be useful if your lawn slopes toward your house or if there are depressions throughout your lawn.


Xeriscaping is a type of low-maintenance landscaping that uses plants requiring minimal amounts of water and maintenance. This can be used in drier areas on your property and may help save you money on your water bill.

Tree Planting

Trees can provide a number of environmental benefits such as air-pollutant uptake and greenhouse gas reduction. In addition, tree planting can slow down the amount of stormwater reaching your property, while also stabilizing soil and increasing groundwater recharge. 

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens feature a variety of native plant species specifically adapted to local rainfall patterns. Rain gardens are planted in shallow depressions or on slopes that intercept the flow of storm water. Vegetation planted in rain gardens will help soak up any excess water you have on your property.

Soil Enhancements

Improving your soil is an easy way to help plants thrive so they can optimally retain, drain and clean stormwater runoff.

Trenches & Swales

Trenches and bioswales are shallow depressions that collect stormwater runoff and move it to another location (a dry area, or a pond or stream). They can be vegetated or be filled with rocks and gravel. As water flows through the bioswale, its natural features cleanse stormwater by filtering out contaminants that may pollute the water.

Native Plants

Native vegetation is adapted to local climatic conditions, so when placed strategically, they will thrive with little or no maintenance. Planting native vegetation will also help prevent the introduction of invasive species.

Infographic: Stormwater management techniques for your property
An infographic from the Clean Foundation which demonstrates each stormwater management technique.
Access the interactive version to learn more about each method.


Home Renovations & Retrofits

French Drains

For wet problem areas – like those next to downspouts – open or covered trenches containing a perforated pipe can be used to redirect water to areas designed to allow water to soak into the soil.

Wet Ponds

Ponds are a good option if you have an area that is consistently flooded. Ponds can also be designed to accommodate, temporarily store and release additional stormwater at a controlled rate.

Protecting Your Foundation

Protecting the perimeter of a building is very important to prevent stormwater from entering your basement. There are many ways that you can protect your foundation – ensure the surrounding ground slopes away from your foundation, or install a weeping tile system to move water away from your foundation.

Redirecting Your Downspout

Downspouts move rainwater from your roof to the ground and away from your foundation. It is recommended that you extend your downspout at least six feet away from your foundation.

Green Roof & Green Walls

Green surfaces are roofs or walls of a building that are covered in vegetation. Green surfaces are great at absorbing stormwater. These surfaces can also improve temperature regulation, keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Replacing and Avoiding Hardscapes

Hardscapes, such as paved driveways, walkways and roofs, are surfaces which are impenetrable to water. Instead, stormwater quickly moves across these surfaces, potentially picking up pollutants like oils from your car, and deposits stormwater directly into the municipal stormwater pipes. Replacing hardscapes with permeable pavers can allow more water to be absorbed back into the soil and lessen the impact that stormwater has on municipal systems.

Water Conservation

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels collect stormwater that drains from a roof. They attach directly to a downspout and fill automatically with every rainfall. Water collected in a rain barrel can be used in various ways: You can water your lawns or garden, wash your car, and use it for flushing toilets and washing clothes by connecting it to your residential plumbing.


Cisterns are permanent holding tanks for water, usually located underground but can be placed above ground as well. Cisterns can easily replace a multiple rain barrel set up, and like a rain barrel the stormwater collected can be used for a variety of tasks. This can include watering your lawn and gardens, washing your car, or flushing your toilets inside your house.

Clean provides the knowledge, tools and inspiration needed to encourage the individual actions that add up to positive environmental change. Clean would like to thank the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia for their support of their stormwater work.