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Stormwater Solutions for Homeowners Fact Sheet: Vegetated Swales

Find fact sheets on techniques to control runoff and reduce stormwater contamination, developed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

The Stormwater Solutions for Homeowners fact sheets—developed by CZM as part of the Coastal Water Quality Program—give property owners a variety of options to effectively reduce runoff pollution and other stormwater impacts to local waters.

    Fact Sheet Summary

    vegetated swales fact sheet cover

    This fact sheet provides information on vegetated swales—channels with moisture-loving plants and amended soils that intercept, treat, and slowly convey stormwater runoff to where it can be effectively infiltrated. With this technique, the stormwater is absorbed by plants and filtered through porous soils, reducing the quantity of runoff and slowing and controlling runoff flows. Additionally, pollutants are removed before infiltrating into groundwater supplies and sediments are captured before running off to waterbodies. Compared to traditional drainage ditches or curbs and gutters that channel runoff into storm drains, vegetated swales can accent the natural landscape, reduce overall stormwater flows, limit flooding, prevent soil erosion and washouts, and improve water quality.

    For the complete PDF version of the fact sheet, download Stormwater Solutions for Homeowners Fact Sheet: Vegetated Swales (PDF, 4 MB).


    Other Available Stormwater Solutions Fact Sheets

    Fact sheets are currently available on these techniques:

    • Vegetated Buffers - Trees, shrubs, high grasses, perennials, and other vegetation can be strategically planted to help slow, capture, and filter runoff and reduce stormwater impacts.
    • “Green” Lawn and Garden Practices - Environmentally friendly yard care methods—such as planting native species, conserving water, and reducing fertilizer and chemical use—help to protect water quality and can save time and money.
    • Rain Gardens - Rain gardens are specially designed and planted depressions in the ground that collect, filter, and treat stormwater.
    • Reducing Impervious Surfaces - Impervious surfaces (such as asphalt driveways and concrete patios) allow greater volumes of stormwater to flow quickly offsite, carrying contaminants and causing local flooding and erosion. Replacing impervious surfaces with gravel driveways, planted areas, and other options that infiltrate or absorb water can significantly reduce stormwater problems.
    • Minimizing Contaminants - Household contaminants—such as oil from automobiles, toxins from pesticides and cleaning products, and bacteria from pet waste and septic systems—can contribute to stormwater pollution. But simple changes at home, from reducing fertilizer use to properly disposing of batteries and other hazardous household products, can help keep inland and coastal waters clean.
    • Preventing Erosion - Stormwater can carry sediments that fill storm drains, obstruct channels, smother wetlands, and cause other water quality and habitat impacts. Erosion and sediment controls can help slow and redirect stormwater, reducing erosion and capturing sediments and attached pollutants on site.

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