You can slow the flow of stormwater runoff on your property and prevent pollution and damage to local water bodies. Here are a few ways to help:

Rain Gardens

Install a rain garden! The websites below offer tips and guidance, including how to calculate the appropriate rain garden size.

Check out this video about a Howard County resident who saved her yard from stormwater runoff by installing a rain garden. Her rain garden also protects the environment and offers beautiful habitat for butterflies! 

The Chesapeake Stormwater Network offers guidance on building rain gardens and other practices yourself in the Homeowner Guide to a More Bay-Friendly Property..

  • Thinking about building a rain garden yourself?
    • The Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s Homeowner Guide to a More Bay-Friendly Property takes the guesswork out of estimating excess fill and what materials you need to buy. Check out the table on page 24.
    • Check out our Green Registry for a list of local stores--and aisles within those stores--where you can find materials for your do-it-yourself rain garden project.
    • Need creative inspiration? Use these free rain garden templates to jump-start your imagination!

To help you understand your soil type and what types of lawn care are appropriate for your unique soil, you can get a lawn soil test. If you live in a Columbia Association property, you can get a test for FREE!


We recommend that you hire a contractor for most hardscaping projects.Permeable pavers

Watch this video to learn what a difference permeable hardscaping can make.

Conservation Landscaping

Rain Barrels and Cisterns

How much rain water can you catch in your barrel? Find out!

Do you want to learn more about rain barrels and get a free one?  Find comprehensive rain barrel information, including where to get the barrels FREE, assembly and installation guides, here.

Rain barrels can be purchased from Howard County stores within our Green Registry.  


Tree Planting

Access resources on page 51 of the Homeowner Guide to a More Bay-Friendly Property

Other Outreach and Awareness Tools

Stormwater Calculator
See how much runoff your property generates with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s National Stormwater Calculator.

Get Involved
Check out these creative ways to broaden your environmental horizons and get involved in the race against runoff!

  • Project Map: Check out some of the projects funded by the Watershed Protection Fee
  • Green Map: Discover all of the green liv­ing, nature, and cul­tural resources right here in your own back­yard on the Howard County Green Map.
  • Stream Mapper: Do you know your neighbors? How about your neighborhood stream? Streams are as much a part of our communities as the people who live next door; so get to know them by using the County’s free Stream mAPPer tool.  Send Rachel Beebe ( an email to receive a free tree tag as a marking tool. Check out the map here to see what other mAPPers are up to (also pictured below)!

  • Watershed Stewards Academy: Howard  WSA   trains, supports, and empowers community leaders to serve as Master Watershed Stewards in the protection, restoration and conservation of Howard County watersheds.
  • Simple Ways to Reduce Runoff: You can do it—it’s easy! Watch this video to learn more.
  • Storm Drain Stenciling Program: During storms, pollution is carried from roofs, driveways, and lawns and into rivers and streams through storm drains untreated. As a result, oil, pet waste, and trash ends up polluting our local water. Stencil "Only Rain Down the Drain" on storm drains to remind everybody to protect our local water. Click here to report obvious pollution.Check out this short video to learn more and read the manual if you would like to start a stenciling project. Complete the storm drain stenciling application to get permission to stencil and start on the project.