Watershed Protection and Landscaping Strategies

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a common water body such as a river, creek, lake, wetland, estuary, or ocean. When water runoff flows into a storm drain or gutter it does not go to a sewer system or treatment plant, it drains directly into the local watershed. In San Diego County, most of the major watersheds drain west toward the ocean. Manure, fertilizers, pesticides, and trash can pollute local water bodies, harming environmental and public health. By implementing a few Best Management Practices (BMPs) we can minimize runoff and protect our watersheds. 

There are many landscaping strategies that you can use to redirect and capture run-off to prevent pollution from making its way into the watershed. 

Compost can be applied to the landscape as a “blanket” or “sock”. Adding compost across a slope or channel helps prevent erosion, increases water absorption into the soil, filters sediment out of runoff, and encourages native plant growth.

Swales are depressions in the ground designed to encourage the accumulation of rain during storms and hold it for a few hours or days to let it infiltrate into the soil. 

Berms are raised beds that can be used to direct water to swales. Berms and swales can also be terraced on slopes.

Photo courtesy of San Pasqual Valley Soils

Bioswales are open, shallow channels with vegetation covering the side slopes and bottom that collect and remove pollutants from stormwater runoff.

  • Rock (energy) dissipators are devices designed to protect downstream areas from erosion by reducing the velocity of flow to acceptable limits.
  • Vegetative filter strips are land areas of either planted or native vegetation, situated between a potential pollutant-source area and a surface-water body that receives runoff.



Resource Videos

Compost and Mulch Best Management Practices - Project tour of compost sock application at the Mid-Coast Transit Corridor