Glossary

Canopy Trees: Native trees that are placed in a way that they will eventually shade or cover hard surfaces in your yard, such as a driveway or rooftop. Canopy trees clean our air and water, provide valuable habitat for birds and butterflies, and can lower your heating and cooling costs.

Conservation Landscape: The formal name for native plant gardens – a garden containing at least 75 percent native plants that used in a yard instead of turf grass/lawn. Conservation landscapes slow and filter rain runoff (also called stormwater), which helps reduce or eliminate harmful pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides that can wash into local streams. These gardens also provide food and shelter for local wildlife. Conservation landscapes are easy to install. 
 
Invasive Plants: Plants that grow aggressively and may have special qualities that allow them to kill off native plants or out-compete them for food and sunlight. For example, some invasive plant species release chemicals into the soil that are deadly to other plants. Many invasive plant species cannot be used by wildlife for food and shelter, or they offer very poor nutritional value to wildlife. Most invasive plants also are non-native.
 
Native Plants: Plant species that have developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region and are adapted to the local growing season, climate, and soils. These plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides than the exotics (non-native plants) found in many lawns and gardens. Native plants are generally deeper rooted than non-natives, which helps them filter more stormwater, and also provide food and shelter for local wildlife. 
 
Non-Native Plants: Also known as exotics, non-native plants are plants that humans have brought from another area. Non-native plants generally need more chemical pesticides and fertilizers than native plants, and attract fewer birds, butterflies, and other animals. 
 
Rain Barrel: Container used to capture rain water that runs off a home’s roof. Rain barrels are typically connected directly to the gutter downspout and come in various sizes, ranging from 30 gallons to 100 gallons. Rain barrels reduce the water runoff that causes pollution and flooding and provide water for your garden.
 
Rain Garden: A shallow depression filled with a special soil mix and deep-rooted native plants. These gardens collect rain from hard surfaces – such as your roof or driveway – to slow and filter rain water before runs into local streams. To build a rain garden, approximately two feet of dirt is removed (and any turf grass on top of it) and replaced with a mixture of sand, topsoil, and compost to help hold water. Native plants adapted to periods of extreme wetness are used to design an attractive garden. Rain gardens can help prevent erosion and flooding as well, but they are not suitable for every site (such as swampy or sloped areas). Rain gardens are designed to hold water for less than one day – enough to filter polluted runoff but not long enough to breed mosquitoes. 
 
Stormwater: Water from rain storms or melting snow that does not soak into the ground becomes stormwater – also called “runoff.” Stormwater can carry pollution into storm drains, which lead directly into our lakes, streams, and river. Runoff from yards can carry pesticides and fertilizers with it. Runoff from roads and parking lots can carry chemicals, dirt, and oil into our waterways. 
 
Turf Grass: These areas of grass – also called “lawn grass” or “lawns” – blanket communities across the country. Grass is kept short for recreational use or simply to look tidy. Such grass usually requires chemical weed and pest control and fertilizers. Due to its short roots, this type of grass soaks up much less stormwater than native plants do.
 
Watershed: The land area that drains into a stream or other body of water. Watersheds come in many different sizes; the watershed of a small creek may also be part of the watershed for a larger river. For example, water flows into the Chesapeake Bay from 64,299 square miles of land in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. More than 150 rivers and streams drain into the Chesapeake Bay, and each has its own smaller watershed.