Importance of routine care for your rain gardens, conservation landscaping, rain barrels, shade trees, and other stormwater practices

Rain garden in action at St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Wheaton, MD (Alliance 2022)

Do one of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • Over time, your newly installed rain garden or conservation landscape has grown from a sparsely planted garden to a densely planted area where the plants are blooming, growing, and attracting pollinators! Now what do you do to care for it?
  • You have installed a rain barrel to capture the rainwater from your downspout. It’s great to have access to this free resource to help water your plants! What should I do before freezing winter temps hit?
  • Has English ivy or another invasive plant crept into your yard and has started to take over your practice?
  • Is water taking longer now than when your stormwater practice was installed to infiltrate into the ground?
  • You’re interested in maintenance, but are worried about how much work it might be or how much it might cost?

Residential stormwater practices are great ways to help capture and infiltrate stormwater on your property, but they need routine care to keep them working effectively. Maintaining your stormwater practices can seem daunting at times, but the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay can assist. Visit our Stormwater Maintenance Resource Center to help you get the most out of your installations through long-term care.

RiverSides Rain barrel (Alliance 2020)

The Importance of Maintenance

In order for your stormwater practices to continue to function properly, they require regular maintenance. The more often upkeep is performed, the less likely your practices will require bigger (and often more expensive) repairs. Throughout the year there are different ways to keep up with maintaining your practices. We recommend that you create a Maintenance Schedule to help keep track of what needs to be done each season.

Established RiverSmart Homes Rain garden (Shorb Landscaping 2021)

For larger, structural repairs, the Alliance suggests hiring a Chesapeake Bay Landscaping Professional (CBLP), or if you are a determined DIY-er, check out the Stormwater Maintenance Resource Center (SMRC) for helpful resources organized by stormwater practice:

Preview of the Alliance’s Stormwater Maintenance Resource Center (Alliance 2023)

Anacostia Watershed Maintenance Pilot Project

The Alliance has documented through routine inspections several instances of residential stormwater practices falling into disrepair years after installation. It appeared that property owners could use assistance in determining what kind of maintenance was needed and when it should be done.. These observations resulted in the development of the Maintaining Stormwater Practices in the Anacostia Watershed project, funded by a Small Watershed Grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The goal of this pilot program is to support residential property owners with maintenance of their stormwater practices through four different strategies.

Stormwater Maintenance Resource Center: The Alliance partnered with Chesapeake Conservation Landscape Council, who consulted with top Chesapeake stormwater professionals, to review and compile the most appropriate and valuable stormwater practice maintenance resources. An additional Ask the Expert feature was made available for project participants.

Inspections: Residential property owners within the project region may request an evaluation of their existing stormwater practices. Chesapeake Bay Landscaping Professionals will complete a site visit and provide a written summary of recommendations to increase, improve, and/or maintain the functionality of the stormwater practices.

Cost-share Maintenance: Residential property owners within the project region may apply for a one-time cost-share maintenance service with 50% (maximum of $750) of costs covered. During the maintenance visit, property owners will learn proper techniques to maintain their stormwater practices and continue their functionality.

Green Ambassadors Program (GAP): A volunteer neighborhood program supports property owners with their stormwater practice maintenance through community work days and sharing of tools, materials, educational opportunities, and other resources.

You can learn more about the pilot program here: Stormwater Maintenance Resources for the Anacostia Community

This project is coordinated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, with support from project partners DOEE, Montgomery County DEP, Prince George’s DoE, and Chesapea Bay Landscape Professionals.
This project is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

Have questions about the Maintaining Stormwater Practices in the Anacostia Watershed pilot program? Contact Kristen Parsons, at for further details.