Other options Woodland restorationIf your site is currently wooded, restoring a mix of healthy woodland vegetation is an effective stormwater management strategy. The first step is to identify and remove any invasive plant species.

The most prominent invasive species in our region is Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)—often called "bush honeysuckle." Removal is best accomplished in autumn and winter since this form of honeysuckle retains its leaves well after native woodland plant species have dropped their leaves. It is also the time of year that cutting down the honeysuckle and painting the stumps with herbicide most effectively kills the honeysuckle and other woody invasive plant species. Smaller bush honeysuckle plants may be easily pulled out. Be careful when pulling out large areas of older, large honeysuckle plants. Removing plants by their roots can exacerbate erosion problems, and when working under mature trees this may cause surface root damage to desirable trees, causing die-back or death of the trees.

Download a natural area maintenance schedule [pdf].

The next step is to identify whether you have a bottomland forest (along a creek or in low-lying areas) or a drier, hilltop forest. This will determine what plant species are on your list for planting to enhance the woodland’s biodiversity. This list should include plants from all the plant groups: large trees, understory trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and sedges/rushes. If you are unsure of what type of habitat you have, enlist the help of a certified arborist and/or native plant horticulturist/company.

Recommended tree species include:

Large trees (30 feet and taller) for average to moist soils, shade to part-shade:

Small to medium trees (10–30 feet) for average to moist soils, shade to part-shade:

Large trees (30 feet and taller) for dry to average soils, part shade to full sun:

Small to medium trees (10–30 feet) for dry to average soils, part shade to full sun:

Deer eat honeysuckle and hide in its underbrush. Removal can help create a deer-resistant landscape. Reducing honeysuckle on your property can reduce the number of deer and ticks.

Bush honeysuckle/Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is sometimes desired for its ability to screen an undesirable view, or to create a privacy hedge. Non-invasive alternatives that can be installed for creating a privacy screen include:

Go to the Select Plants section to download a spreadsheet with additional tree and groundcover recommendations. See additional resources in the Woodland Restoration and Plant Selection sections of our Resources page.

Link to Work Wonders with Woodlands section Link to Conquer Compacted Soils section Link to Stabilize Steep Slopes section Link to Let Loose on Low Wet Areas section Link to Transform Turf section Link to Design & Build a Rain Garden page Link to Select Plants page

Problem Areas to Avoid

Under some conditions, any kind of rainscaping (landscaping to manage stormwater) is not recommended. If the following conditions exist at your site, consider installing a rain barrel, vegetated roof or choose another site to rainscape:

  • over septic systems
  • in contaminated soils or groundwater
  • adjacent to a karst sinkhole leading directly to groundwater reservoir
  • for runoff from vehicular areas, in wellhead protection areas or within a horizontal distance of 2× the depth of any nearby wells
  • within 10–20 feet of footings, pavement or any building, including those on neighboring properties
  • within 5 feet of the property line
Managing Challenging Areas

Under other challenging landscape conditions, rain gardens are not recommended but other viable landscaping alternatives exist.

Utilities: Choose short stature plants to plant underneath overhead utility lines. Do not install rain gardens or trees over underground utilities. Call 1 (800) DIG-RITE to find out where the underground utilities are located.