By the Bronxville Green Committee
Oct. 25, 2023: Autumn is a good time to review some healthy landscaping practices that can help your property absorb rainwater rather than sending it to Bronxville’s storm sewer system.
Rainwater that falls on every hard surface in Bronxville is being directed into the storm sewer system and from there into the Bronx River. As we experience more extreme rain events, in which more rain falls during a short period, this system is being overwhelmed despite the Village’s significant, ongoing work and investment to keep it operating at maximum efficiency. Pollutants picked up from these hard surfaces also end up in the river.
So, what can residents do to help? How we all manage our autumn leaves makes a difference!
Don’t leave your leaf piles in the street. It’s a violation, and leads to flooding, when you place leaves in the street. Section 260 of Bronxville’s Zoning Code expressly forbids raking leaf piles into the street. Instead, leaves should be left on your property near the road. The DPW picks up leaves on an accelerated schedule during high leaf season, before leaf piles can do any permanent damage to your grass. Leaves left in the street end up clogging storm water cache basins, which undermines the optimal working of Bronxville’s storm sewer system. Please speak to your landscaper and neighbors about their practices. If you see leaf piles in the street, please send a photo to our Village Administrator – this is not for punishment, but to help educate landscaping crews and increase compliance.
INSTEAD, limit the amount of leaf blowing: Leaf blowers decimate pollinator habitat and kick up debris, fungus, and mold, which contribute to respiratory ailments. They compact the soil under your plants, which reduces the ground’s ability to absorb rainwater. The result: increased flooding.
EVEN BETTER, mulch leaves and keep them on the lawn: By asking your landscape maintenance crew to use a mulching blade on the lawnmower and leaving the bits of broken up leaves on the grass, you’ll provide nutrients to the soil and nourish your lawn. A healthy lawn absorbs more rainwater. Learn more about this practice and available landscapers in our area on Westchester County’s Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em website and Bedford 2030’s Leave Leaves Alone website.
BEST, place whole leaves in planting beds: Moving fallen leaves into planting beds, rather than using leaf blowers to remove them, provides winter habitat for nature’s essential pollinators. Leaf mulch also reduces runoff by retaining rainwater and directing its release into the ground. Luna moth cocoons roll up in leaves for the cold months while the chrysalises of swallowtail butterflies take on the appearance of dried leaves for camouflage. Queen bumble bees hibernate in soil, relying on leaf layers for extra protection. And snails, worms, beetles, millipedes, mites, and spiders all hibernate in leaf mulch.
In addition to proper leaf maintenance,
Add native plants to your landscape: Native plants have much deeper root systems than ornamental plants that originated outside Bronxville’s particular ecosystem. In addition to their many other benefits, by drawing water deeper into the soil, native plants help retain moisture and reduce flooding. Learn more on the native plant section of the Green Committee website.
Plant trees: The deep roots of mature native trees absorb a lot of water, some species more than others, and even smaller trees help to reduce runoff. Leaf surfaces and tree branches capture rainwater and allow it to fall gently to the earth, where it can be more readily absorbed, especially if the soil is kept aerated.
By adopting these healthy landscaping practices, you can help Bronxville begin to tackle its #1 concern--persistent flooding.
The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization that is part of the Village of Bronxville. We work to propose and implement environmentally sustainable programs in our community. Visit our website and follow us on Instagram @bxvgreencommittee to learn more.
The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization under Village government. We work with the Trustees and Village staff on programs that promote clean energy initiatives and sustainable ways of living. Our programs include The Bronxville Giving Garden, a community garden whose produce is donated to local groups; Take Back Day, when we collect items to be recycled; and Pollinator Pathways, which encourages adding native plants to our gardens. We believe everyone can make a difference by adopting simple, sustainable practices in daily life so we can work together to protect what we love -- our families, our homes and our town.