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Stormwater Management Maintenance

by | Aug 24, 2022

Stormwater refers to runoff resulting from rain and from melting ice and snow. Although runoff is a part of nature, it can cause a great deal of trouble on commercial properties and in residential developments. When stormwater isn’t properly managed, the problems that ensue can include flooding, rapid erosion, structural damage, and the release of pollutants into communities and watersheds. In some of those instances, especially the last one, heavy fines can be a consequence as well.

To manage stormwater properly and remain in compliance with local, state, and federal standards, landscaping experts follow Best Management Practices (BMP). All BMPs work to reduce runoff and the damages associated with it.

Because every property is different and the surrounding conditions vary as well, there is no single approach to stormwater management. It’s the job of experienced professionals to analyze a site and come up with a BMP that suits it. To help you understand what some of the best approaches are, though, we’re going to talk about 5 different plans.

Retention Basins

A retention basin is an artificial lake or pond into which stormwater runoff is diverted. There, it undergoes treatment processes like those occurring in natural watersheds. Sedimentation algae, plants, and bacteria work to filter water and remove pollutants. The water level stays constant except when a significant storm event necessitates release.

Retention basins are nice because they add aesthetic appeal, they can function for over 20 years with proper maintenance, they improve water quality and recharge groundwater, and they can attract wildlife. They work best in areas with highly permeable soils, which allows for maintaining the water level more easily.

The major downside of retention basins is that their size makes them expensive and more difficult to construct.

Dry Retention Basins

A dry retention basin (also called a dry pond), as opposed to a standard one, does not maintain consistent water levels. Their purpose is more to remove water rather than to retain it. 

During a storm event, water fills the basin and particles and pollutants settle to the bottom. As the water rises, it reaches outlets that direct it to nearby streams or storm sewer systems. To manage exceptionally heavy runoff, there are emergency spillways to prevent flooding and erosion. In a dry retention basin, water rarely remains for longer than 24 hours.

Dry retention basins are excellent for managing flooding, and they work well in almost any climate, making them a popular choice for stormwater management. One significant drawback is that they require a lot of space to build and to be effective. Another is that they are not good for areas where there are high levels of contaminants in storm runoff.

Vegetated Swales

Also known as a grassed swale, a vegetated swale is an open channel that slows runoff and removes pollutants at the same time. The names come from the fact that the sides and bottoms of these channels feature lush vegetation thanks to the amount of water that passes through them.

This BMP works well in both residential and industrial areas that see lower water flows and don’t stay wet for longer periods, and they can work as a stand-alone solution or with other BMPs.

The cons of vegetated swales are that they don’t work well in flat and very steep areas (too much water at once for them to handle in the latter case) and that since by design they have less protection beneath than retention basins do, there is more risk of pollutants getting into groundwater.


If an object has the potential to contaminate runoff that encounters it, it’s important to cover it so that the runoff doesn’t come in contact with it and then continue on its way with contaminants. Roofs and enclosures can work to do this, but so can something much simpler like a plastic tarp.

Permeable Pavers

This is one of our favorite solutions because it’s relatively inexpensive, easy to install and maintain, and it looks great. It’s also suitable for large commercial sites and residential homes alike.

With a permeable paver, stormwater filters through the stone. This lets it drain into the soil below, and the soil removes pollutants naturally without letting them escape to other locations.

Permeable pavers probably most often see use as pathways and sidewalks, but their versatility also allows them to work as driveways, parking sites, and even low-traffic roads.

Need a Stormwater Solution?

LandArt Solutions has certified experts who can help you create a BMP for your site. These systems don’t take care of themselves, though, and that’s why even after installation, we’re here to perform inspections and provide stormwater management maintenance. For sensible solutions and maintenance you can rely on, contact us today!

Matthew Horn

Vice President of LandArt solutions since 2008, Matt Horn brings unrivaled experience and training to his work. Matt has multiple certifications from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and in stormwater management that cover installation, maintenance, and inspection. Among his specialties is the installation of residential and permeable pavers and retaining walls, but his quiver contains many more skills. These include landscape design and renovation, green building, site planning, drainage solutions, and many more. Matt’s experience in landscape design includes but is hardly limited to patios, turf (natural and synthetic), hardscaping, lighting, and irrigation. As an influential part of LandArt deeply invested in its success, reputation, and client satisfaction, Matt has played a principal role in adding beauty, function, and value to multitudes of North Carolina homes and businesses.

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