How Basketball Reduces Flood Risk

Before: Mastodonte is pictured observing the property. After: Ms. Julie’s grandkids play basketball on her new permeable basketball court.

The most consistent feedback we receive regarding our Front Yard Initiative (FYI) program is that the financial barrier to completing a gray-to-green project is significant, even after receiving an FYI reimbursement. Financial status should not be a barrier to green stormwater management. Green infrastructure is a rising tide that lifts all boats, more distributed residential green infrastructure leads to  less flooding.

With this in mind, we developed the FYI Direct program. The FYI Direct program makes green infrastructure accessible by fully funding small scale residential projects for households with incomes at or below 80% AMI. We directly hire women and minority owned businesses to create unique and functional designs.

Ms. Julie didn’t have any concrete, but was still experiencing a lot of standing water issues, exacerbated by the impermeable lot behind her property. Without gutters sheets of runoff from her roof would pour in the alley alongside her house and pool beneath it, causing subsidence and safety hazards. Although her project did not qualify for FYI, we had the opportunity to help Ms. Julie create a unique green infrastructure installation through our new FYI Direct program. We directly hire local businesses and fully fund small scale residential projects, such as this one, for homeowners who have a great need for stormwater management intervention. 

We hired Mastodonte for this project, owned by experienced green infrastructure contractors Arien and Luisa. They walked the property with Ms. Julie, carefully listening to her and observing the property for signs of standing water issues. Miss. Julie explained her water management challenges, spoke about her grandkids (who come to visit her often), and discussed the abandoned lots surrounding her property (widely overgrown and ignored by the City). The result? A permeable basketball court for Ms. Julie’s grandkids to play on! 


The surface is created with a really tiny aggregate that can be lightly compacted to create a suitable surface for sports. The court is connected to subsurface drainage that runs through the backyard and into a French drain alongside the house’s alley. Here, runoff from the gutters and overflow from rain barrels, both installed in partnership with Green Light New Orleans, is captured and allowed to infiltrate into the ground. This installation creates approximately 650 gallons of stormwater holding capacity, alleviating pressure on the City’s drainage system and reducing flood risk for Ms. Julie’s property. 


After the project was complete, Mastodonte brought their bushwacker to clear the 2 lots straddling Ms. Julie’s property and threw a celebratory fish fry. By building lasting relationships and community that go beyond green infrastructure, we will create a better,

Arien fries up some fish after clearing two overgrown lots.

healthier New Orleans.

Green infrastructure has a multitude of benefits outside of water management. Ms. Julie no longer experiences standing water issues in her backyard and there is less subsidence on her property, but now her grandkids also have a safe place to play ball. This project wouldn’t have happened without the creativity and hard work of Mastodonte, the input and trust from Ms. Julie, our partnership with Green Light New Orleans, and support from individual donors. 


What does success look like? Certainly similar to this homeowner’s story, but in the grander scheme, the Front Yard Initiative strives to exemplify scalable and distributable green infrastructure by empowering homeowners to live with water. 

Videography provided by Rachel Kirkwood at Thrive. Learn more about our collaborative partnership, Umbrella, in the Hoffman Triangle here.


The team poses on Ms. Julie’s new permeable basketball court.