Landscape for the River

Liatris and monarch

Turn your yard into a force for clean water while supporting pollinators and other wildlife!

Whether urban, suburban or rural, our yards are part of the Mississippi watershed. The effects of how we landscape and route rain show up far beyond our property lines. Dig into these tips to help protect the river right from your own yard.

One way to familiarize yourself with watershed-friendly landscaping and gardening practice is to attend one of our free or reduced-cost workshops. These classes overview native plants, rain barrels, raingardens and other water-wise practices and are offered several times a year. Presenters keep the material engaging and approachable and are always happy to answer questions specific to your yard or landscaping situation. As soon as dates are set, we post them on our events calendar and note them in our e-newsletter, Mississippi Messages.

If you're looking for information right away, the following pages on some of the most popular watershed-friendly landscaping topics can help get you started. We combed the net for the most useful and practical information we could find. Here's what you can do:

  • Rig up a rain barrel: Rain barrels collect the rain that runs off your roof and slides down your gutters so you can use it later to water your garden or lawn. They also prevent runoff — and the pollution it carries — from entering already-taxed stormwater systems.
  • Create a raingarden: Raingardens beautify a space, while also directly impacting water quality. They're designed to catch rainwater runoff, as well as prevent erosion, filter pollutants and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Plant native gardens: Birds, bees and other critters that live here depend on native wildflowers and plants for habitat, and even the smallest yard's native plantings can make an impact on wildlife and water quality.
  • Support pollinators: Small but mighty, pollinators have an enormous job. Without them, most plants — including the crops we eat — couldn’t fruit. We offer simple tips to support pollinators where you live.
  • Compost your food waste and cultivate your soil: Composting can help your soil hold on to significantly more water, which means that a heavy rain won't cause as much runoff, and a dry spell won't leave plants as parched.
  • Update your lawn care: How you care for your lawn can have a big impact on local waterways. Here are a few quick tips for creating a lawn that absorbs more water and flourishes without chemical assistance.
  • Hold the salt in winter: While road and sidewalk salt makes life easier during the winter, too much causes serious problems for the river. Just 1 teaspoon of salt is enough chloride to permanently pollute 5 gallons of river, lake or creek water. Here's what to do instead.

Since river-friendly landscaping brings great benefits to communities, grants and funding for installation of raingardens, native gardens, permeable pavers, and other stormwater management practices are often available. Find out more about cost-share programs.