Backyard Conservation Corner

 What every yard needs

Ever wonder where your drinking water comes from?

Many rural residences in Delaware County depend on well water for drinking; the city of Muncie depends on surface water. That’s right; the water flowing through the White River will eventually come out of your tap.

Upper White River Watershed including sub-watersheds 

Muncie is encompassed in the upper White River watershed; all the water flowing through the land in this area will end up in the White River. Every residence, business and individual in the city impacts the quality of our water.



 Storm Water Runoff 

Every time it rains, water flows through the land picking up nutrients off agricultural fields, oil from roads and other pollutants on our land. The impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots only contribute to the problem.

But wait! There are conservation practices anyone can do to keep our river, and our drinking water, clean

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are an easy way to capture water from your roof, thereby decreasing storm water runoff. Simply position the barrel under the gutter downspout and you will have rainwater to use for your garden, trees, to wash your car, even to water your lawn in times of low rainfall. But watch out! Watering in the middle of the day will allow the sun to evaporate the water before it can infiltrate. Be sure to water in the morning or at night to prepare for those blistery summer days. During these summer months this watering can make up about 40% of total water use for a typical household. Wow! When you consider the savings of money, the benefit to the environment and the decrease in demand on the treatment plant, conserving water is a win-win!

                     Rain Gardens

In order to have a system of conservation in your backyard there are many other things you can do. Rain gardens are perfect for those pesky areas of your yard that are often wet and hold water. When these areas drain, unsightly brown spots are left, decreasing landscape pleasure. A rain garden would take these areas and turn them into a beautiful flower bed, one that will soak this water up and give it time to infiltrate into the soil. Using native, deep rooted plants will give the garden the best opportunity to thrive and increase infiltration. By conserving more of the rainwater in your yard you can decrease water surges, decreasing storm water runoff and recharge local groundwater. The type of soil you have is an important aspect of building your garden; check out our soils page to learn more.  


Plant a tree! Trees conserve water by shading grass thereby lowering evaporation and also adding moisture to the atmosphere through transpiration. Trees also reduce runoff through their canopy by breaking the rainfall and allowing water to drain down the trunk into the earth below. Mulching trees can also create a spongy area to soak up water much like a rain garden will. These practices capture rainwater and filter pollutants, thereby stopping the transport to the river.

That’s not all trees can do for you! They can decrease air conditioning expenses by shading your house; they clean the air by capturing pollutant gases and odors all while providing oxygen. More trees in the city will also decrease the heat island effect, making city streets cooler in those hot summer months. Where soil erosion is a problem, trees hold the land in place!

Trees also have other great benefits to society; patients exposed to trees tend to heal faster and with fewer complications from the trees natural calming effect and can even reduce violence. They also provide economic benefits, increasing property values, and attracting new people to the area.

Of course, native trees are the way to go. Not only will they thrive but will also attract wildlife.  Birds, squirrels, butterflies and beneficial insects will be allowed to share the land and provide further enjoyment for you and your neighborhood! 


Composting is a good way to decrease household trash while enriching your soil. Whether you have a stand-alone composter or you use space directly in the soil, this is a good way to add beneficial matter into your soil. Worms as well as soil microbes will help decompose vegetable, fruit and grain waste in a green way- reducing landfill waste.

That’s not all! There are many other ways to conserve water and decrease pollution around your house…

Wash your car in the grass instead of a driveway or other impervious surface; this will allow the detergents to filter through the soil instead of washing into the storm drain.

Don’t litter- this trash will end up in the storm drains and in the River!

Have pesky yard litter? Compost it! This yard waste contains beneficial organic matter that can increase your soil quality. Use it in your compost or around your trees and plants for mulching.

Make nature work for you- don’t let these valuable resources skirt past your house, capture them! These backyard conservation practices can work together, helping to contain natural resources on your property and increase the quality of your land, your neighborhood and your life!