Friday, September 11, 2009

Rain Barrel Workshop!!

Rain Barrel Workshop
Monday, November 2 • 6 pm
Location to be determined
The Rain Barrel Workshop will give homeowners a brief overview of the
rainwater cycle, information on the importance of stormwater management at
home, and instructions on the installation and use of a rain barrel. This event is
part of FOW’s Protect Our Watershed program.Visit for more details.Friends of the Wissahickon work to conserve the forest and creek and preserve historical structures.

A s a homeowner in the Wissahickon watershed, you can
take important steps to improve the health of the creek by:
slowing the speed of water off your property to allow it to seep underground;
providing more porous and unpaved surfaces in your yard to soak up
stormwater; and striving to keep chemicals and soil runoff from tainting
the creek.
10 Simple Steps
The Friends of the Wissahickon invites you to
become a partner in safeguarding the Wissahickon
Creek by following these 10 simple steps:
1 Branch out
Plant native trees and plants. A mature tree’s massive network of leaves
slows rainfall during a storm, reducing the speed that raindrops hit the
ground and slowing the erosion of soil into the stream. Also, native
plants and trees absorb rain like sponges, and leaves drip rainfall onto
the ground for hours after a storm, giving more water a chance to seep
slowly underground. A tree’s roots hold the soil, which prevents soil
from washing into the creek. Contact FOW for help in choosing trees
and shrubs that are best for this purpose or consult the plant list
2 Roll out the barrel
Rainfall flows down rooftops into gutters and downspouts, then gushes
down driveways to flow into the street and storm drains. To slow water
down—and save money on your water bill—consider an old-fashioned
remedy, the rain barrel. Place the barrel under a downspout, then capture
water for garden and lawn. When you water with it, the rain returns to
the soil, just as nature intended. The FOW sponsors workshops in
conjunction with the Philadelphia Water Department on how to
use and install rain barrels and provides free rain barrels to
homeowners who attend workshops. Check the FOW website for
information and workshop dates.
3 Try porous patios and walkways
The large amount of impervious cover in the lower Wissahickon watershed
is a significant problem for the creek. Consider reducing the amount
of impervious surface on your property with driveways or parking areas
built from porous asphalt or special concrete blocks containing holes to
allow rainfall to trickle through. Or try a patio made from loose slate with
gravel between the rocks.
4 Spout off in new directions
Re-direct your house’s downspouts to flow to your lawn or garden. You’ll
need to slow the stormwater’s velocity to protect soil from erosion, but
the water can be used where it’s needed—on lawn and garden—while
reducing your water bill. See information on dry wells and other
infiltration techniques at
5 Easy does it
Chemicals we place on our lawns and gardens—weed killer, fertilizer,
pesticides—can run into the creek through stormwater. Pesticides can
kill stream creatures, and fertilizers stimulate the growth of algae,
which blocks the light needed by fish and other creatures. Carefully read
all labels containing these materials, and apply them conservatively.
Listen to weather reports to refrain from applying just before a storm.
Consider less noxious brands of pesticide and weed killer, or take
advantage of the wide variety of organic practices available to maintain
a chemical-free landscape.
6 Don’t get dirty
Strive to keep all lawn, pool, and automotive chemicals—even animal
waste from dog walking and soaps and suds from car washing—from
tainting the creek. Remember that anything that goes down the storm
drain in your street eventually empties into the Wissahickon. Another
stream problem is sediment—soil washed into the creek from gardens,
sparse lawns and construction sites. Protect soil in every way you can.
Cover bare soil with mulch or hay. If your property is sloped, slow the
speed of rainfall by covering slopes with vegetation.
10 Simple Steps continued from previous page
7 Less lawn, more garden
Gardens, wooded areas, and meadows slow rainfall far better than lawn.
Capture more rainfall by replacing portions of lawn in corners and edges
with flowerbeds or native shrubs—you will have less lawn to mow as
well. Native shrubs and perennials demand less water than ornamentals.
Even better, add a rain garden or wildflower meadow to your property. A
meadow can dramatically slow the flow of runoff from your property
while it absorbs lawn-care chemicals. FOW can arrange a free “environmental
audit” of your property to provide suggestions about
environmentally-friendly landscape improvements.
8 Mow easy, leave some leaves
A close-cropped, well-manicured lawn may look attractive but allows
stormwater to flow across it too quickly. Consider maintaining grass at a
height of at least four inches—this height slows the growth of weeds while
better absorbing stormwater. In addition, refrain from raking autumn’s
leaves from every corner and edge of your property. Leave some leaves
where they will form natural mulch to soak up stormwater like a sponge.
9 Just a dash
Many homeowners and business people salt roads, driveways, and walkways
during snowstorms, and much of the salt flows with melted water
into the creek. Use salt conservatively and consider using non-toxic
alternatives like sand.
10 Get wild and edgy
If you are lucky enough to own property adjacent to the Wissahickon Creek
or one of its tributaries, help the creek in an additional way: Instead of
mowing your lawn right up to the stream’s edge, allow a vegetative buffer
to grow—or plant one yourself. A lush buffer of trees, shrubs, and wetland
wildflowers protects the stream from your property’s runoff, slowing the
flow of rain and reducing the amount of chemicals that enter the creek.
Streamside trees and shrubs shade the water, increasing the amount of
life-giving oxygen in the water and encouraging clean-stream life. FOW
can assist by talking with you about which materials are best to
plant as buffers and can provide free native plant materials for
certain properties.
Many thanks to the Lower Merion Conservancy for granting
permission to adapt the material in this brochure.


  1. Loved all the ideas for slow down water runoff to streets, street gutters, storm drains, water treatment plant overflows are very dangerous to your health in any community.
    I would hope that homeowners with rain gutters maintain them on a regular basis to deter rainwater overflow and damage to the homes foundation, lawns, folage, etc.
    Try using an easier, safer, cleaner, and money saving way to keep those rain gutters cleaner. Check out and see for yourself how easy, safe, and money saving it can be. You'll cut your time almost in half from the old method of gutter cleaning. No ladder needed, buckets, scoops, water wands, or climb on to roof to blow leaves all over the place just to be cleaned up again.
    The newly invented, Made In USA, gutter attachment tool attaches to any standard, round 2-1/2" wet/dry vac hose. Vacuum out your gutters while you stay firmly on the ground.
    See what the customer who have purchased and used this tool have to say about their experience in vacuuming out their gutters.
    So stay well, stay safe, stay strong and God Bless America.

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