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Low Impact Development

Photo: Low Impact Development Center

Low Impact Development

What is LID?

LID is exactly what it sounds like - development that minimizes its impact on the environment. By working with the landscape, developers minimize the amount of pollution that leaves the site. Rain gardens, rain barrels or cisterns are popular forms of LID. Rain gardens capture and treat stormwater, preventing it from running off the property and into a storm drain. Rain barrels and cisterns store water, making it available for things like watering plants or washing your vehicle. Storing water means you don’t have to pay for it! Plus, rainwater is often nutrient rich so you may not have to buy any fertilizer either!


Does LID Save Money for Developers?

In addition to saving on water and fertilizer, developers see a 10% cost savings due by not having to rely upon gutters, piping, and underground storm sewers. Using rain gardens and grass swales instead of gutters is much more aesthetically pleasing and is considered an amenity in lots of communities! Because LID minimizes disturbance to the land, the cost of grading and soil compaction is reduced as well.


What Can You Do?

Before you build, consider using LID techniques. Although LID is relatively new, many developers are beginning to see the benefits. If you already own a home, consider constructing a rain garden to help filter runoff before it leaves your property. All Stormwater SMART staff have Residential Rain Garden Certification, so give us a call and we’ll design a rain garden for you!

Common LID Practices:

Rain Gardens:
A shallow depression collects a few inches of water and allows it to be absorbed into the ground or by native plants instead of flowing directly into nearby streams and lakes.

Rain Barrels and Cisterns:
Store rainwater from gutters and roof to use as irrigation or recycle as grey water.

Grassed Swale:
Vegetated, open channel designed specifically to treat and reduce stormwater runoff.

Permeable Pavers:
Porous concrete or grids filled with gravel, grass or mulch act as paving while allowing water to filter down into the soil beneath.

Soil Amendments:
Amend the soil with organic matter and/or sand to increase infiltration.

Reduction and Disconnection:
Reduce the number of gutters and disconnect them from underground pipes. Store the rainwater for later or direct it towards the landscaping and away from the driveway or street. Water your garden, not your driveway!


For more information, download our LID brochure and check out these valueable resources:



US EPA Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development Center




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