Posts tagged lawn chemicals

Runoff resolution

With the copious amounts of rainfall Eastern Iowa has received this spring, the Iowa Storm Water Education Program offers the following timely advice on lawns, runoff and water quality:

 

 

 

Can a Healthy Lawn Improve Water Quality?

 

 

   If you live in a newer neighborhood, chances are that during construction the valuable topsoil was removed from the site (and may even have been sold) and what remains is heavy clay subsoil.

    Heavy equipment was driven across this soil causing compaction. Then, once construction was completed and lawn preparation began, the compacted soil was lightly scraped, a thin layer of topsoil added, and sod applied over the top of that. In most cases, the lawn now functions similar to placing sod on top of a concrete block!

    The soil is so heavily compacted that the roots can’t penetrate to obtain the necessary nutrients from subsurface soils. This results in having to water frequently and over apply lawn chemicals.

     Rainfall that runs off compacted lawns, driveways, parking lots, rooftops, and streets flows into the storm drains. It is not directed to a wastewater treatment plant, but simply discharged, untreated, directly into local streams and lakes. The major concern with this is all the excess fertilizer, pesticides, motor vehicle fluids and sediment that accumulates on compacted lawns, driveways, parking lots and streets. These pollutants, carried along with the rainfall runoff, contaminate and severely pollute and impair our local waterways.

     What can you do to change this situation? There are a number of key things you can do with your own property. The starting point is to soak up as much of the rainfall on your property as you can, so that it doesn’t flow into the street. If your lawn is of the compacted type described above, chances are, it is not helping to reduce the runoff.

     Here are a few suggestions:

• Restore the health of your lawn by aerating and then apply a thin (1/4-1/2”) layer

of compost and seed.

• Use fertilizers containing zero phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer

bag indicates the quantity of phosphorus). Sweep up any fertilizer that is spread

onto sidewalks, driveways or streets and spread it back on the lawn.

• Use native landscaping and native turf in your yard.

 

     We all need to protect and improve the water quality in our streams and lakes. Please think about doing your part!

     Visit http://www.iowastormwater.org to learn more about storm water issues and contact your local community for additional educational information on storm water management.

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Backyard gardens

For anyone who missed this weekend’s session on backyard gardening, the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids sent along this synopsis, with further resources worth checking out:

Fred Meyer (fred.meyer@backyardabundance.org) is with Backyard Abundance (www.backyardabundance.org) This group helps residents understand how to make ecological improvements to their yards. The group gives yard tours throughout the community and shows what others can do in their yard to benefit the environment. Upcoming tour is Sat., May 10 from 2-4 PM at 38 Quincent Court in Iowa City. 


Fred is a master gardener, master conservationist and studies permaculture. This is permanent agriculture – observing how the environment works and using these clues to create environmentally beneficial yards – build community.
One interesting thing from his talk was the timeline of the American lawn. The idea of a lawn was brought to the U.S. from England in 1850’s. The USDA and Golf association developed turf grass in early 1900’s. It didn’t take off right away due to the many wars and depression; folks were  more concerned with putting food on the table. In 1945 when war ended the country was left with all of these chemical factories and decided to market this lawn concept. So esentially it is a very new concept that people bought into right away. Turfgrass has no real benefit to the environment and many negative effects….
We need to rethink this yard concept!
 Sarah West (sjwestie@gmail.com) is with Iowa City Food Not Lawns (icgrows.wikispaces.com) Iowa City Food Not Lawns is an active group designed to provide networking and resources for the communities in and around Iowa City that seek to establish regenerative living systems within the urban setting. This includes the integration of neighborhood food production, edible landscaping, water collection, beneficial use of waste, resource sharing, and a commitment to increase local dialogue, education, and social justice by raising awareness of these basic components of living.

 Sarah is also a student of permaculture. She studied in Fairfield last summer in their self-sustaining eco village community – solar and wind power and community gardens. She spoke on the many benfits of growing your own food, including health, money savings and mental benefits.

Both emphasized getting out and observing and listening to nature. Also, talking with others about these concepts and trying things out. One tool they suggetsed was  a broad fork. Apparently tilling isn’t good as it upsets the structure of the soil and “weeds” usually benefit from tilling (by seeds being brought up from underground). This tool breaks up soil and aerates soil enough to plant things, but not destroy the healthy natural layering.

 

 

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