Amended February 2024 Newsletter

Rutgers Report on Creating Flood Resilient Landscapes

It should come as no surprise that flooding in New Jersey has become a more pressing problem in the past couple of decades. Climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms.

In November 2023, Rutgers came out with a 180-page report for communities and municipalities to help alleviate flooding. Here are some highlights:

  • Natural floods play an important role in maintaining ecosystem function and biodiversity by recharging groundwater, filling wetlands and triggering breeding and migration of many species, among many other functions. 

  • Natural ecosystems are inherently resilient, but the built environment is not. Approximately 33% of our total land area is developed, thereby reducing the capacity for drainage and infiltration, and exacerbating flooding risk.

  • NJ has many flood disaster avoidance mechanisms, including tide gates, sea walls and levees, but they can fail when environmental conditions exceed their design specifications. Therefore, Rutgers proposes that NJ needs flood disaster resilience as well.

The goals for landscape resilience stated in the report are:

  1. Protect human health and safety by removing structures from a flood zone. These lands are then used as natural flood storage and community open space.
  2. Enhance integrity and function of natural areas by creating more open space and recreational sites near homes and increasing public access to them, and in addition, improving biodiversity through habitat restoration.
  3. Empower communities by establishing the vision, support and resources needed to plan for, withstand and recover from flooding disasters.

Within flood prone areas, Rutgers suggests that communities create the following:

  1. Community gardens
  2. Neighborhood or pocket parks
  3. Pollinator gardens
  4. Tree plantings
  5. Green storm water infrastructure, such as rain gardens or bio-swales
  6. New backyard space for adjacent properties

Bio-swales are vegetated channels that transport stormwater runoff. Swales are typically designed to control stormwater runoff velocity and infiltrate it where feasible.

The Rutgers report focuses on flood resilience for communities and municipalities. But you can incorporate many of the suggested improvements in your own yard. If your area is prone to flooding, there are many precautions you can take to help alleviate local and downstream problems:

  1. Improve drainage Create slopes away from your home and its foundation. You may need to Install French drains or trenches in your basement to redirect water outside
  2. Create rain gardens Rain gardens are basins designed to capture, filter, and absorb rainwater. Dense native vegetation in these areas soaks up excess water.
  3. Use permeable surfaces Consider using permeable pavers for walkways or driveways, and allow water to seep through instead of run off.
  4. Strategic landscaping Plant wet-tolerant trees, shrubs and dense garden plantings in strategic places to intercept, infiltrate and transpire rainwater. Trees and other plantings significantly mitigate runoff and flooding. 
  5. Create swales Swales are shallow ditches that can redirect water away from low lying areas. Dense native vegetation in these areas slows and soaks up runoff.
  6. Rain barrels Rain barrels under your downspouts can collect and store rainwater that will both capture some runoff and provide a water source during dry spells.
  7. Mulch Apply mulch around plants and trees (but not too much  and never up against the trunk) to help retain moisture and prevent soil erosion.
  8. Inspect gutters Keep your gutters and downspouts clear to ensure proper water flow away from your home’s foundation.

Permeable Pavers allow stormwater to drain into soil

Great Swamp Watershed Association Native Plant Sale

It's time to be planning for The GWSA Native Plant Sale beginning April 1.

New Jersey Native plants will be available for online purchase beginning April 1st through April 19th. Pick-up will be May 3 and 4 in one of 13 convenient locations.

For the sale, GWSA has made it easy by offering six different kits for shade, sun, wet, dry, and deer resistant areas. On the GWSA website, you can find Native Garden Resources, which will tell you why natives are so important, and guide you through choosing and caring for your native plants.

In anticipation of the sale, GSWA is hosting four webinars to teach you about creating healthy soil, conserving water, supporting wildlife, and adding beauty and interest to your yard:

  • Creating a Woodland Garden with Indigenous Plants & Vertical Structure. 
  • Plug into Native Groundcovers. 
  • Pollinator Conservation: Creating and Protecting Habitat for NJ’s Bees, Butterflies, and Biodiversity. 
  • GSWA Native Pollinator Plant Sale Overview. 

 Click here to subscribe to the webinars.

Priority Tree Species for New Jersey

In anticipation of Spring 2024, and if after reading about flooding, you would like to plant some trees, here are some terrific suggestions from Jean Epiphan of Rutgers: Priority Tree Species for New Jersey. (Please click link or image below to see the full two-page PDF.)

Free Rutgers Webinar on Staying Safe from Ticks

Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County is offering a FREE virtual webinar entitled, “Tick Confidence with NJ Ticks 4 Science!" The PDF flyer below provides further details about the program.

Registration is required by February 15, 2024. You will receive a Webex link on February 16th, which is what you will use to join the webinar on Tuesday, February 20, 7– 8pm,

Please click this link to register.

Sign the Pledge to Plant Native

Click here to sign our Plant Native pledge with your intent to:

  • Reduce the spread of the invasive plants that are harming our public parks and natural areas.

  • Provide native plants required for a healthy regional ecosystem of insects, birds and other wildlife.

How You Can Help:

Affiliations & Partnerships