Water is a pretty hot topic. Of late, there has either been too much or too little. Bermuda has recently experienced flooding from extreme weather events and this trend is likely to continue. There are four ways homeowners can make a difference managing storm water runoff from their property which at the same time can reap unexpected rewards—a silver lining. Upgrading or designing a landscape has the power to increase a home’s curb appeal and its sales value as well as providing health benefits.
Recently Bermuda has seen record-breaking rainfall, with last year’s rainfall averaging 15 inches above normal. Hurricane Nicole alone dumped 6.77 inches of rain on the island in a single day. We started 2017 with a bang, with more than the monthly average of 5.3 inches falling within the first week. More rain means more flooding, and to landscape architects, this is no surprise. More houses, hard surfaces and roadways inhibit rainfall from filtering back into the ground water supply.
Before: Drive with asphalt.
While we cannot control the weather, we can use the landscape to help control flooding. Four solutions for managing storm water runoff are: 1) Planting more trees and shrubs on our property; 2) Maintaining existing storm water drains and keeping them free of sand and weeds; 3) Incorporating attractive swales and rain gardens, systems that divert, capture and absorb seasonal rain water; and 4) Choosing permeable surfaces on driveways, parking areas, patios and sidewalks rather than concrete or asphalt. Permeable paving allows rain water to seep back into the ground as well as extending living spaces and improving a home’s aesthetics, curb appeal and value.
In addition to helping reduce environmental impacts, research shows that investing in the landscape is one of the best investments a home owner can make to their property. Sophisticated design with colour and larger plants can improve a perceived home value and add as much as 15 per cent to its sale value over comparable homes. Beyond financial value, a well-designed landscape connecting interior and exterior spaces increases living areas.
After: Permeable brick paving, a car port and turning area
improve the curb appeal and value of this cottage.
Spending time in nature is good for us. It is intuitive that spending time in a garden can make us feel better, and this is supported by a growing body of research showing spending time in nature provides short- and long-term mental and physical health benefits. A study published by Environmental Science & Technology found that just five minutes’ activity in natural areas resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood. Furthering this concept, a study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias found that symptoms of dementia decreased after patients spent time in gardens or were exposed to horticulture therapy.
In its simplest form, landscape architecture is the art and practice of designing outdoor environments. In reality, an engineered landscape brings real and perceived values and benefits to the built world. Landscape architecture, in today’s home environment, offers ways for Bermudian homeowners to reduce the amount of rainwater runoff, help with flooding problems around the island, while at the same time, positively impacting the curb appeal and value of their homes, as well as their health and well-being. Contact a local professional landscape architect to help you develop a landscape plan and harness the power of nature.
Jennifer Davidson is a Landscape Architect (LI Candidate) at OBMI, Bermuda.