Landscape Design with Drainage Swale

Landscape Design with Drainage Swale

John Cacchione, Earth Works Designer, discusses the benefits of incorporating a drainage swale in this Atlantic Beach landscape design to provide aesthetic benefits while protecting the environment and other neighbors’ property from stormwater runoff. “The city will make you do that based on your coverage no matter if you are under or over; they want the water to sit on your property and stay on your property,” Cacchione said. “So that is what this swale is designed to do. It’s an eighteen-inch dip in the lawn, in the grade.” Cisterns and submersible sump pumps are alternatives stormwater retention options, although more costly than building a dry drainage swale that’s an integral part of this beautiful landscape design.

Whether making modifications to the landscape yourself or contracting with a landscape company, the same regulations apply. Flooding complaints in Atlantic Beach result in city inspectors arriving to find a solution to those complaints. “If the city has to tell you where that’s got to go (stormwater management system), that’s gonna be on the sides of the house where you have no room,” Cacchione said with some frustration. “It cannot be decoratively, aesthetically pleasing integrated into your landscape like we did here. So really think about the placement of that in your new plan and how it’s gonna work with your footprint.”

Managing stormwater runoff is considered critical to protecting the environment and the property rights of neighbors who don’t want to be flooded by others’ activities. Historically, drainage quickly removed rainwater, resulting in erosion, sedimentation, freshwater intrusion, algae blooms, and fish kills. Fertilizers, animal waste, petroleum products, pathogens, and other pollutants end up in lakes, estuaries, rivers, and the ocean.

Hardscaping projects must take into consideration all sources of water conveyance to comply with the city code. “The downspouts from the house they are all connected underground and run to the swale,” Cacchione said. “So all of the water from the roof is collected. Nothing is going out into the street.” Make sure your landscaping company understands and readily complies with applicable regulations.

“Studies in Florida have determined that the first one inch of runoff generally carries 90% of the pollution from a storm,” according to the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. “The 1989 STORMWATER LEGISLATION establishes a statewide watershed management framework that relies upon a cooperative effort between the Department of Environmental Regulation, water management districts and local governments.”

Development pressure at environmentally sensitive beaches results in more significant stormwater restrictions and enforcement typically than inland communities. In 2019, Atlantic Beach enacted ordinance 90-19-238 that restricts maximum lot coverage with impervious materials to 45 percent. “Onsite stormwater storage is required for all development or redevelopment projects and any modification to an existing structure that increases the impervious area by more than 250 square feet” according to the City of Atlantic Beach Fact Sheet. Additionally, the regulation attributes 50 percent impervious status for swimming pool square footage. It can require on-site stormwater retention for driveways and sidewalks if modification or replacement varies from their original footprint.

For more information on your most cost-effective drainage options in your next landscaping and hardscaping project contact Earth Works for a design consultation.

And remember that for comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden and landscaping need contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online and at 904-996-0712.
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