Enhancing Your Garden on DC's Dime

  • Oct 21st 2011

by Shilpi Paul

Enhancing Your Garden on DC's Dime: Figure 1
Photo by Randy Pertiet

Patient homeowners in the District can fill their yard with hydrangeas, butterfly weed and inkberry bushes on (mostly) the city’s dime.

Launched in 2006 by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), RiverSmart Homes subsidizes native species gardens, plants shade trees, and installs rain barrels on residential properties in the city. The paved-over District has a significant stormwater run-off problem, with rain flowing on impervious surfaces and picking up pollutants and toxins on its way to streams and rivers. The RiverSmart Homes program is one attempt to create more permeable surfaces and ultimately bring the Anacostia and the Potomac back to health.

After filling out an application on the DDOE site and waiting for a couple of months, interested residents will be visited by a city landscaper.

From the DDOE website, an explanation of what the visit will entail:

Inspectors conduct audits to assess what landscape enhancement(s) – shade trees, rain barrels, BayScaping, rain gardens or pervious pavers – will be appropriate for your property.

[The inspector] presents an informational packet on the RiverSmart Homes program to you, and asks for a brief tour of your yard. The inspector will then walk your property on their own, taking down measurements and notes.

After the visit, homeowners typically have to wait (DDOE estimates 6-8 months) for a local contractor to come install the flora, and the owners will have to assume 10 percent of the cost of the goods that they receive.

Here is a quick rundown of costs:

  • For $30, DDOE will install a rain barrel
  • For $50, they will plant a shade tree
  • For around $100, a landscaper will fill the yard with native flowers, grasses and other vegetation.

DDOE told UrbanTurf that since the program’s inception, the following have been accomplished:

  • 2,175 audits completed
  • 1,300 rain barrels installed
  • 1,000 trees planted
  • 150 rain gardens installed

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/riversmart_homes_will_enhance_your_garden/4407.

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