Caring for your Streamside Property
Although there are no large rivers in Kennett Township, there are many miles of streams that are part of the Red Clay, White Clay and Brandywine watersheds. Proper management of the land surrounding these streams can improve water quality, help replenish our groundwater, and prevent flooding.
If you have a stream on your property, the easiest first step you can take is to establish a vegetated ‘no-mow’ buffer zone for at least 15’ on either side of the stream. A width of 35’ is recommended. Establishment of deep-rooted native grasses along the stream sides will make a tremendous difference in the health of your stream by helping to prevent erosion of the stream banks, by absorbing water and pollutants before the run-off from rain can enter the stream, and by shading the water to prevent overheating.
The next step is to plant trees and shrubs in your buffer area. Using native shrubs that will grow in full sun to part shade is a great way to start. The shrubs will grow up quickly to give you a fast start, and also live happily under the partial shade when your trees grow tall. Including paths and sitting areas in your landscaping is a great way to enhance your enjoyment and use of these woodland stream bank areas.
The brochure “Caring for your Streamside Property” developed by the Lehigh County Conservation District (http://chesco.org/DocumentCenter/View/7352) gives some excellent recommendations for plants to use as well as other tips for maintaining the health of your stream.
One low cost way to restore eroding stream banks is the use of live stakes of native red-twig dogwood or black willow. This article from Penn State Extension gives an introduction and instructional guide to this simple technique: https://extension.psu.edu/live-staking-for-stream-restoration
If you have questions about your stream or stream-side property maintenance you can contact the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance (BRCA) for expert advice. BRCA promotes restoration, conservation, and enjoyment of the Brandywine and Red Clay watersheds. BRCA is partnering with Kennett Township on a Stream-side Initiative to support property owners. http://www.brandywineredclay.org/
Many of the streams in Kennett Township are impaired, primarily due to sediment. Impaired streams in Kennett area are shown in red (2014). Taking care of our even our smallest streams can go a long way to reversing stream impairment and improving our water quality while preserving our beautiful Kennett heritage landscapes.