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By planting more native plants in their home gardens, residents can help mitigate stormwater runoff that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.
From their backyards to the Bay, homeowners in Richmond, Va., Baltimore, the D.C. Metro area and the Hampton Roads region are joining an environmental-awareness campaign that aims to grow some good.
The Plant More Plants campaign—led by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, with a number of other Chesapeake Bay Program partners in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.—provides homeowners with resources to grow more plants as a way to mitigate stormwater runoff and erosion and ultimately help improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
The message to homeowners is simple and encourages an activity they’re already taking part in. By increasing the size of their gardens and adopting conservation gardening and lawn-care practices, residents improve home landscapes while helping protect one of the most important resources in the region. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, providing more than 500 million pounds of seafood and affecting nearly 17 million people. Its complex ecosystem, along with its connecting waterways, provides habitat, food and protection for diverse groups of animals and plants. However, water quality in the Chesapeake Bay is poor, and the delicate ecosystems that exist within it are at risk.
Stormwater runoff is one of the fastest-growing sources of pollution and water-quality degradation within the Chesapeake Bay, yet many homeowners don’t realize the connections among their lawns, stormwater and water quality in the Bay. As spring approaches, rains threaten to wash the chemicals and fertilizers designed to make lawns green and attractive into streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Once in the waterways, these pollutants fuel the growth of excess algae, which threatens the health of the Chesapeake Bay’s entire ecosystem. To improve water quality, the flow of pollution must be reduced.
By planting native trees, shrubs and perennials, homeowners can help filter stormwater and prevent runoff. “Plant More Plants” partners with industry organizations and advocates to educate consumers on ways they can provide Bay-friendly solutions and resources for homeowners as they seek to enhance their curb appeal.
Several of the organizations and advocates presently involved in the campaign include Virginia, Maryland and D.C. master gardeners, the Virginia Green Industry Council, the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, and the Marylanders Plant Trees Program. Each are finding ties to the campaign through mutual goals.
Plant More Plants was funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of its efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed.