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Learn how to reduce stormwater runoff in this video.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principle # 8:

Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff is precipitation that does not soak into the ground where it falls. When water runs off yards, streets, and parking lots into storm sewers or directly into waterways, it carries sediments that clog streams and reduce oxygen in the water, as well as chemicals toxic to aquatic ecosystems and capable of rendering water supplies undrinkable. Runoff is one of the greatest threats to water quality in Florida. Because stormwater runoff doesn't seep into the ground and recharge groundwater supplies, it does not help prevent water shortages.

“Green up” your yard by keeping rain and sprinkler water on site and out of storm drains. This helps reduce pollution of our bays, rivers and lakes. Because water washes off our yards, it is important to reduce the amount of pollutants on our property. 

Florida-Friendly Landscapes: Reduce Runoff

  • Where possible, direct downspouts and gutters to drain onto the lawn, plant beds, or containment areas, where rain will soak into the soil rather than run off the yard. 
  • Decrease soil erosion by planting groundcovers where lawn grass doesn't thrive, such as under trees or on steep slopes. 
  • Use mulch, bricks, flagstone, gravel, or other porous surfaces for walkways, patios, and drives. 
  • Collect and store runoff from your roof in a rain barrel or cistern. 
  • Create swales (low areas) or terracing to catch, hold, and filter stormwater. 
  • Pick up after pets. This will help reduce bacterial and nutrient pollution entering storm drain systems.
  • Clean up oil spills and leaks on the driveway. Instead of using soap and water, spread cat litter over oil, sweep it up and then throw away in the trash.
  • Sweep grass clippings, fertilizer, and soil from driveways and streets back onto the lawn. Remove trash from street gutters before it gets washed into storm drains.

rain barrelMake A Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are a great way to reduce stormwater runoff and to save water for a dry spell. If you have gutters on your house, you may be able to collect 55 gallons of water during a 1/2-inch rain by connecting a downspout to a rain barrel or cistern.


  • Electric Dril
  • 15/16" Drill  Bit
  • Sabre Saw (you can use a hand drill & hand saw)
  • Supplies

  • Plastic Drum (55 gal. best)
  • 3/4" Spigot (with male threads)
  • PVC Cement
  • Caulk
  • Directions - Use only barrels that have carried food products

    1. Drill 15/16" hole at the first even part of barrel, about 6" to 8" from bottom
    2. Screw 3/4" spigot into hole (should have a snug fit).
    3. When spigot is about 3/4" of the way in, apply PVC cement to threads and finish tightening.
    4. If using a downspout, use a sabre saw to cut a hole in lid to fit spout. After inserting down spout, caulk around the hole.
    5. Other option: Take off the lid of a drum or trash can and cover the opening with a fine fiberglass screen. Place the container where water flows off your roof.
    6. Elevate barrel on 2 to 3 cement blocks to allow easy access to the spigot. (Note: If you want more pressure, raise the barrel higher above the ground.)
    7. You may want to add a second spigot at the top of the barrel so you can direct the overflow through a hose into a specific part of your yard.