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Reducing Stormwater Runoff

It is summertime in Florida and that means lots of rain. That is great for our plants, but often these heavy rains lead to rainwater running off the landscape and carrying pollutants down our storm drains. Some of the pollutants that may get washed away include plant material, fertilizer, pet waste, car oil, pesticides, and many others. The good news is that through practicing the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ you can reduce stormwater runoff in your own landscape.

Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus may be present in fertilizers and plant materials which can cause excessive algae growth in water bodies. This depletes oxygen and can lead to fish kills. Additionally, other pollutants washed away with stormwater runoff will ultimately enter bodies of water and drinking water supplies and could be harmful to the health of humans and aquatic life.

Here are some simple Florida-Friendly practices that you can use in your yard to reduce stormwater from running off:
  • Direct downspouts from you roof gutter onto landscape beds or the lawn.
  • Sweep or blow grass clippings, leaves, and soil back on the lawn and not into streets or down storm drains.
  • Pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly and clean up spilled oil on your driveway.
  • Minimize impermeable paved surfaces and utilize permeable surfaces such as gravel, pavers, or mulch for driveways and paths.
  • Add a rain barrel to your yard by connecting it to a downspout in your roof gutter system or placing it below a valley in your roof.
  • Incorporate a rain garden in your landscape that uses a swale and plants to catch, drain, and filter stormwater.


Rain barrels collect rain water from the roof

Downspout directed in landscape bed

Permeable walkway



Rain Garden









For more information about these practices and preventing stormwater runoff check out:

#8: Reduce Stormwater Runoff, The Florida Yards and Neighborhood Handbook

Stormwater Runoff, UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions

4 Comments on “Reducing Stormwater Runoff

  1. Am I allowed to have rain barrels where I live in Polk county

    • Great question. Yes you can and many homeowners do. However, if you live in a community with a HOA, you may want to verify any rules for placement in the landscape.

  2. I bought a home in Kathleen about five months ago. I would like to make some changes in the yard, some will not be helpful in terms of water management and others I hope will be helpful. Is there anyway to get advice directly from your office on what will help and how I can accommodate changes to my plans to better protect water runooff?

    • Hi Robert, Great question! I am glad to hear your concern for how changes in your landscape may affect nearby bodies of water. I would be happy to help you! Please contact me at so that we can discuss ways to minimize your stormwater runoff. Thank you, Julie Schelb