Conservation landscaping benefits the environment by improving water quality, preserving native species, and providing wildlife habitat. Conservation landscaping replaces some of the turf grass of a traditional lawn with native plants that have adapted to Montgomery County’s local rainfall and soil conditions and require less water and maintenance than the lawn grasses.
The Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council defines conservation landscaping through “Eight Essential Elements.” A conservation landscape:
Why Should I Install Conservation Landscaping?
Conservation landscaping is able to reduce the negative impacts on the environment associated with conventional lawn management. Many native plant species are deeply rooted, more resistant to insects, plant disease, and drought. By replacing traditional grass lawns with native plants, you can reduce the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and water.
Conservation landscaping saves you time and money when compared to many other forms of landscaping. There is less area to mow, so environmentally damaging emissions and time spent mowing are reduced. Native plant landscapes that are well-designed are easy to maintain, visually pleasing, and environmentally friendly. Conservation landscaping benefits wildlife, the environment, neighborhoods, and homeowners. The aesthetics of conservation landscaping can vary from naturalistic to more formall, traditional landscapes.
Conservation landscapes can be designed to receive runoff water from roofs, patios and driveways, allowing water to soak into the ground and reducing stormwater runoff. It is a great way to help the environment and protect your local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
Is Conservation Landscaping Right for Me?
Conservation landscaping is a great option for homes with garden space, but not the right conditions for a rain garden.
How to Assess Your Property for Conservation Landscaping
Before adding conservation landscaping to your yard, assess your site’s conditions. You want to preserve any existing beneficial environmental features and add conservation landscaping to create new native features.
The success of your new native landscape depends on whether you select the right plants for the right places in your yard. Carefully evaluate your property, so you can choose plants based on their sunlight, soil, and moisture requirements. Although native plants are adapted to our region, it is usually beneficial to add compost to the soil at the time of planting.
Take an inventory of your current landscape conditions:
Determine why you want to do conservation landscaping.
Other site considerations:
These observations should give you an idea of where to add conservation landscaping that will thrive and help to achieve your goals.
Ready to move ahead with installing conservation landscaping?
There are a lot of decisions that need to be made with your conservation landscaping after the assessment is complete.
The RainScapes Conservation Landscaping Guide (below) has suggestions and useful information on how to best make the necessary decisions. The RainScapes program has knowledgeable and helpful staff who can help you through the process as well as the RainScapes Rewards Rebates program with great financial incentives for installing the garden.
Maintaining Conservation Landscaping
Conservation landscaping requires regular gardening maintenance. Overall, landscaping with native plants requires less maintenance than traditional lawns and gardens. Remember: pesticides or fertilizers are generally not required.
DEP can answer your questions and provide additional guidance about maintaining your conservation landscaping. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Montgomery County Customer Service Center at 3-1-1.
Rebates, Resources and Financial Incentives
Interested in installing conservation landscaping? The County offers incentives to help make the decision a little easier.
The RainScapes Rewards Rebates Program
The County offers technical and financial assistance (in the form of rebates) to encourage property owners to implement RainScapes techniques on their property, including conservation landscaping.
To participate, your property must be located in Montgomery County, outside of the municipal limits of the City of Rockville, City of Takoma Park, or City of Gaithersburg. Projects are not eligible if they are associated with permit approval requirements for new building construction, additions, or renovations.
The program is funded each fiscal year (The FY begins July 1 and ends June 30). Annual funds for the programs are limited, so rebates will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.
The RainScapes program also provides technical assistance to help with the installation of your conservation landscaping. They have a wealth of information, expertise and want to help!
The Water Quality Protection Charge Credit Program
After you have installed your conservation landscaping, you are now eligible to receive a credit off your annual Water Quality Protection Charge (found on your yearly property tax bill). The credit provides an incentive for maintaining your conservation landscaping and other stormwater management practices.
You must apply for the WQPC credit separately – the credit will not be provided to you automatically.
Residential property owners can receive up to 50% off their WQPC depending on the type and size of stormwater management practices on the property.
Non-residential and multi-family properties can receive up to 50-60% off their WQPC depending on the type and size of the stormwater management practices on the property.