Would you love waking up and gazing out across a lake, pond or river in your backyard?
In Florida, that question usually is answered with a resounding “YES!” Water access is why many people move to our communities.
Whether natural or artificial, the allure of waterfront property is huge, but have you ever thought about how the care of that neighborhood stormwater pond affects your local and statewide environment?
Why Stormwater Ponds?
Stormwater ponds play several roles in communities, mainly to catch and help filter water slowly before it enters the groundwater, known as the aquifer. They also assist in flood management and erosion, provide beauty, and give water and habitat to local wildlife.
Building a Buffer
If you live on or near a retention pond, you may not realize how much your actions can affect the health of the water. Fertilizer and chemical runoff from your property will either infiltrate the soil or travel along the surface into the nearest storm drain or low area. Retention ponds help catch this water and manage its drainage into the ground to help filter contaminants.
One key way to keep your waterway clean is to limit the practices that could pollute it. Get a soil test before fertilizing, follow the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recommendations for your landscape, properly dispose of household chemicals, and do not apply pesticides and herbicides unless needed. In addition, limit activity in this area to reduce erosion, and keep pet wastes from washing away.
If you maintain a shoreline area, a vegetation buffer zone can help keep the water clean.
Planting Florida-friendly plants suitable to this environment can be beautiful while providing additional filtering and erosion control.
This will also reduce mowing time in the area and give some nice habitat for birds and other wildlife. Great options for plants can be found at https://tinyurl.com/flplant.
Designs can fit a variety of styles, including native grasses, trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
This area should be maintenance-free, meaning you should not be actively mowing, fertilizing or working it. A 15-foot buffer space around the body of water is recommended.
Perhaps you live by a retention pond but do not control how this area is managed. If so, work with your community’s decision-making body—such as a homeowners association—to discuss options for the site.
See https://tinyurl.com/purhoa for a guide on working with homeowners associations.