October 10, 2013 News

Fall Yard Care for Cleaner Water

The weather is getting cooler, leaves are turning, and the grass is growing a bit more slowly.  Fall is here and with it come a variety of tasks to ensure your yard is ready for winter.  Did you know that making a few small changes in the way you typically manage your yard can make a big difference for water quality?  Read on to learn how you can do your part for cleaner water!

What do you typically do with your leaves after raking them?  Bagging them and sending them to the landfill is wasteful.  It uses disposable plastic bags, takes up limited landfill space, and uses energy to transport.  Burning leaves results in air pollution and in many towns and cities, is illegal.  A simple and environmentally-friendly way to dispose of your leaves is to compost them.  You can buy a compost tumbler to speed up the composting process or simply pile them in a heap.  Once your compost is finished, you can spread it in your garden, flowerbed, or on your lawn and provide your plants with a free source of nutrients to improve their growth!  For more information on composting, check out http://hamiltonswcd.org/ESW/Files/Composting.pdf.

Thinking of fertilizing your lawn one more time before it goes dormant for the winter?  Make sure it actually needs the extra nutrients fertilizer provides.  Adding unnecessary nutrients to your grass contributes to water pollution by sending phosphorus to our streams and ponds.  Soil tests are simple and inexpensive to do and result in a customized report instructing you on the best type of fertilizer (if any) to use on your lawn.  Visit http://hamiltonswcd.org/ESW/Files/Nutrient_Management.pdf for more information on soil testing.  Once you have decided to use P-free or no fertilizer on your lawn, be sure to take the pledge at http://www.clearchoicescleanwater.org/lfallawns/!

Lastly, did you know that fall is the ideal season for planting trees?  Trees raise property values, reduce home energy costs by shading or providing a wind break, provide homes for wildlife like songbirds and owls, and improve our air quality.  Fall planting season is generally September through November through most of the Midwest.  Roots are the reason that fall planting is desirable; root growth is most rapid in the mild temperatures of fall and spring, reduced or stopping in the extreme heat of summer and cold of winter. Roots are busy growing after leaf drop in the fall and before top growth in the spring, giving them the maximum amount of time to establish before using their energy to leaf out in spring and survive the hot, dry summer.  For help selecting the right tree for your yard and learning the proper planting techniques, visit http://hamiltonswcd.org/ESW/Files/Tree_Planting.pdf.

Keep these simple tips in mind while you are taking care of your lawn this fall and know that you are helping improve our air and water quality, provide habitat for native wildlife, reduce waste sent to our landfills, and most importantly, protect our environment for future generations.