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RiverSmart Homes - BayScaping

BayScaping Defined

BayScaping is simply planting vegetation that is native to the Chesapeake Bay region, in which the District of Columbia is located. Native plants are indigenous species that were present here prior to the settlement of Europeans.

A BayScape is an aesthetic landscape, planted and maintained to benefit people, the local environment, and the Chesapeake Bay. BayScaping is a low-cost alternative to traditional landscaping that utilizes turf grass and ornamental plantings.

Benefits of BayScaping to the Homeowner

BayScaping requires less maintenance and money then a grass lawn, and each BayScape can be unique in its aesthetic beauty.
Specifically, BayScaping:

  • Minimizes the need for mowing, pruning, irrigation and fertilization
  • Costs typically half or as little as one-fifth the cost of conventional landscapes
  • Can be creative and fun, designed with plants of your particular choice.

Benefits of BayScaping to the District

The District is promoting BayScaping because it improves the health of local streams and waterways by absorbing more stormwater than a conventional landscape. Native plants used for BayScaping:

  • Are more adapted to local climate conditions than exotic non-native species, resulting in less need (and cost) for herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides, or soil conditioning
  • Help to remove suspended solids and heavy metals (i.e. cadmium and lead) from ground water
  • Stabilize soils and prevent erosion
  • Support local wildlife, such as beneficial pollinators, songbirds, and migrating birds and butterflies, by providing food (nectar and seed) and habitat.

How to BayScape

BayScaping is practical nearly anywhere in your yard. It can be designed to individual site characteristics, factoring in topography, soils, drainage patterns and sun exposure. There are many readily available resources to assist you in finding and choosing native plants to plant.

Want to BayScape your yard? RiverSmart Homes can help.

The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) RiverSmart Homes District-wide program offers incentives to homeowners interested in reducing stormwater pollution from their properties. BayScaping is one of the environmentally friendly landscaping practices available through this program. BayScaping is recommended for steep slopes, areas where erosion is occurring, and where a rain garden cannot be installed. Existing beds that have plant material cannot be recommended for BayScaping; 120 square feet minimum of turf, grass, or lawn must be replaced with native plants.

Additional BayScaping Resources:

Bayscaping Flyer [PDF]
DDOE Backyard Habitat Education
Alliance for Chesapeake Bay
US Fish and Wildlife Service: Native Plants
US Environmental Protection Agency: Green Landscaping

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