Posts tagged phosphorus

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Sour soil

The following information is from Claire Smith, Linn County Master Gardener:

 

My granddaughter was reading to me the other day and asked me to define “etc.” and eucalyptus”.  That got me to thinking that there have been several occasions where I’ve been a bit embarrassed because I didn’t know the definitions of some gardening words.  Following are a very few of the multitudes of terms.  Acid Soil:  soil with a pH less than 7.0.  Acid soil is sometimes called “sour soil” by gardeners.  Most plants refer a slightly acid soil between 6-7 where most essential nutrients are available.

  • Alkaline Soil:  soil with a pH greater than 7.0, usually formed from limestone bedrock.  Akaline soil is often referred to as “sweet soil”. 
  • Bare Roots:  trees, shrubs, and perennials that have been grown in soil, dug and have had he soil removed prior to sales or shipping.  Mail order plants are often shipped bare root with the roots packed in peat moss, sawdust or similar material and wrapped In plastic 
  • Berm:  a low, artificial hill created in a landscape to elevate a portion of the landscape for functional and aesthetic reasons such as to add interest, screen areas, or improve drainage.
  • Canopy:  the total overhead area of a tree including the branches and leaves.
  • Cold Hardiness:  the ability of a perennial plant (including trees, shrubs and vines) to survive the minimum winter temperature in a particular area.
  • Complete fertilizer:  powdered, liquid or granular fertilizer with a balanced proportion of the three key nutrients-nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
  • Compost:  decomposed organic matter added to the soil to improve its drainage and ability to retain moisture.
  • Corm:  a modified bulb-like stem.  It is swollen, short, solid and located underground. Crocus and glads are two plants that grow from corms.
  • Cultivar:  a CULTIvated VARiety.  A unique form of a plant that has been identified as special or superior and has been selected for propagation and sale.
  • Deadhead:  to remove faded flowers from plants to improve their appearance, prevent seed production, and stimulate further flowering.
  • Deciduous Plants:  trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in the fall.
  • pH: a measurement of the relative acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of soil or water based on a scale of 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  Individual plants require soil to be within a certain range so that nutrients can dissolve in moisture and be available to them. 
  • Rootbound (or potbound):  the condition of a plant that has been confined in a container too long.  Its roots are forced to wrap around themselves and even swell out of the container.  Successful transplanting or repotting required untangling and trimming away some of the matted roots.
  • Self-seeding:  the tendency of some plants to sow their seeds freely around the yard.  It creates many seedlings the following season that may or may not be welcome.
  • Slow-acting (slow release) fertilizer:  fertilizer that is water soluble and releases its nutrients when acted on by soil temperature, moisture and/or related microbial activity.  Typically granular, it may be organic or synthetic.
  • Variegated:  having various colors or color patterns.  The term usually refers to plant foliage that is streaked, edged, blotched, or mottled with a contrasting color, often green with yellow, cream or white.

Leave a comment »