Not of the Green Thumb? There’s help on the way…

Having recently purchased our home, I’ve found the constant maintenance that comes with being a homeowner extremely overwhelming. If something goes wrong, is malfunctioning or gets broken, a phone call to your landlord doesn’t resolve the issue. The problem is now yours, all yours, regardless of whether you have a solution or not!  With that said, it’s also exciting to finally  be able have a living and garden space all my own, without having to get permission for every minor change I want to make.  

One of the things to tackle on our very long To Do List is landscaping our yard. It’s currently a blank canvas; some grass in the back and two trees with a couple of Azalea bushes in the front. Not being of the Green Thumb kind, my husband and I were thrilled to find the RiverSmart Homes Program, being offered by our District Department of the Environment.

This District-wide program offers incentives to homeowners who are interested in reducing storm water runoff from their properties. A representative comes to your home to do a consultation/audit of your property. Working with your lawn’s geographical terrain, they map out and help you determine which of the five elements (shade trees, rain barrels, bayscaping, rain gardens and pervious pavers) are the best to implement into your landscaping to help maximize storm water runoff.

After the audits, they’ll provide you with a report, and if you decide to go ahead with the solutions, they will set you with different non-profits they have collaborated with to do the work. The program provides you with a cost-savings of up to $1,200, but is not free-of-charge. DDOE is asking for homeowners to pay a small percentage of their installation cost (usually around 10 percent of the potential total cost).

The Five Elements are:

  • Shade Trees = $50 co-pay (usually cost around $300)

  • Rain Barrels = $30 co-pay (usually cost around $300)

  • BayScaping (native plants) = $100 co-pay (The cost of the BayScaping varies depending on the size of the area landscaped, but can run up to $1,200)
  • Rain Gardens = $75 co-pay (The cost of a rain garden varies depending on the size of the area landscaped, but can run up to $1,200)

  • Pervious Pavers = DDOE will pay the difference (up to $1,200) between conventional pavement (concrete) and pervious pavers.

Why would one want to do this? Well, the benefits to both the homeowner and the community are numerous!

The homeowner enjoys:

  • A beautifully landscaped property
  • Cost savings on water, electricity and lawn-mower fuel and oil
  • Reduced heating and cooling bills
  • Less time devoted to lawn-care, resulting in extra time to relax (my husband loves this one!)
  • Higher property values.

Benefits to the Community:

  • Minimizes the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional landscaping
  • Stabilizes soils, helping to prevent erosion
  • Provides increased habitat for native wildlife (butterflies galore!)
  • Reduces air pollution and the urban heat island effect
  • Treats and infiltrates stormwater on site helping to recharge groundwater levels
  • Diminishes the impact on aquatic life from polluted stormwater rushing to local streams during storm events.


We had our initial audit this morning, and are committing to adding a couple of rain barrels, a rain garden and a few beautiful maples and redbud trees.

I love all the Green Initiatives and Programs the District offers. 
It’s nice to be a part of a community that is striving to make a difference.  For more on Green DC, click here and to learn more about the RiverSmart Homes Program, click here.

Learn more about Laura at Green with Envy Events.

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