Natural, undeveloped landscapes — rather than concrete walls, swaths of grass and parking lots or driveways — slow and filter rainwater and water than runs off of roadways, rooftops and parking lots. These natural landscapes can help improve the health of or watersheds and waterways by removing pollutants before they make their way into our streams, lakes and underground water supplies. Property owners can improve the Chautauqua Lake and Lake Erie watersheds by planting shoreline buffers and rain gardens in their yards.
Whether a property is located directly along the Chautauqua Lake or Lake Erie shoreline, or whether it abuts a streambank, installing a shoreline buffer is a crucial landscaping element when it comes to protecting Chautauqua County’s waters. Shoreline buffers capture and slow rainwater and stormwater runoff as the water passes into the watershed. These buffers often feature native plants with deeper roots. These deeper root systems better filter pollutants and nutrients from runoff. They also strengthen shorelines and streambanks to slow erosion and sedimentation to streams and lakes.
Rain gardens are slightly depressed basins within yards that are planted with deep-rooted, water-loving plants. Rain gardens help to capture runoff from properties and allow that water to slowly filter through the plants’ root systems and soil to remove pollutants. Rain gardens are commonly planted near driveways, storm drains and gutter downspouts to capture runoff near the source.
Buffers and rain gardens can be tailored to fit any landscape and gardening preference. Property owners who are ready to naturalize their lawns by planting a rain garden or buffer can contact the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy for help! Click here to download sample Garden Plans, or contact the CWC via our consultations page to consult with a CWC conservationist about making your property more watershed friendly.