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Green Streets Primer

Green infrastructure (GI)—also known as low-impact development (LID)—refers to constructed features that use living systems to provide environmental services, such as capturing and filtering stormwater, creating wildlife habitat, providing shade, and recharging groundwater.

Why use green infrastructure?

A growing number of communities are using GI to manage stormwater more sustainably, while realizing many additional benefits and services.

Cleaning stormwater: Healthy soils, plant roots, and organic matter filter and break down pollutants in stormwater.

Flood mitigation: Earthen basins infiltrate stormwater into the soil, reducing flowing and standing water on streets and parking lots.

Water conservation: Using stormwater to support trees and shrubs greens neighborhood streets without increasing demand on water from non-renewable supplies.

Traffic calming and livability: Chicanes, medians, traffic circles, and right-of-way improvements help create neighborhood streets that are safe and inviting for people walking and biking.

Aesthetics and wildlife: Native and low-water use plants thrive on stormwater and create beautiful landscapes, habitat for native birds and insects, and a sense of place that celebrates each community’s unique ecosystem.

Shade: Removing asphalt and concrete and planting trees provides cooling shade along neighborhood streets, which mitigates the urban heat island effect (the measurable temperature increase in urban areas with high proportions of heat-trapping and -radiating surfaces).

Increased property values: The Arbor Day Foundation has proven that homes and neighborhoods with trees have higher property values.

Community building: A more attractive, safe, and comfortable outdoor environment that uses affordable, integrated stormwater irrigation increases use of public spaces and makes them more inviting for neighbors to gather.

Common green infrastructure strategies

Rain gardens that capture stormwater in rights-of-way, streets, and parking lots (often utilizing curb cuts or cores)

Downspout disconnection and rain gardens on residential properties to harvest rainwater

Removal or reduction of hardscape, such as concrete and asphalt

Restoration of riparian buffers, greenways, and wildlife corridors

Creation of neighborhood mini-parks, featuring rain gardens and native landscaping

All of these approaches follow the basic water-harvesting tenet of Slow it, Spread it, Sink it. By capturing water where it falls and using it to grow native trees and plants, stormwater becomes a resource rather than a nuisance.

Streetside rain gardens harvest stormwater off the street to support shade trees and native vegetation.

Learn how you can green your neighborhood streets

Visit our online Resource Library for manuals, videos, and other resources about green infrastructure

Learn hands-on design, installation, and maintenance strategies for neighborhood GI practices with WMG’s Technical Trainings

Contact us to plan and implement GI practices for your neighborhood, school, business, or home