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Keeping your lawn ‘green’ all summer long

Keep Liberty Beautiful

POSTED: July 3, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Maintaining a healthy yard is important to most homeowners. Most people maintain their lawns themselves, and many take pride in how attractive their yards are.

But have you ever stopped to think about how “green” your lawn really is?

Unhealthy lawn maintenance could be wreaking havoc in local streams and creeks and even in our water supply and quality.

The following tips, provided by the Clean Water Campaign and the EPA Greenscape website, will help you prevent water pollution and use water wisely while keeping your yard green and attractive.

Fertilizer application

• Avoid fertilizing in drought conditions and when heavy rain is predicted.

• Calibrate fertilizer spreaders to ensure proper rates are applied and use slow-release forms of nitrogen.

• Close the spreader when going over pavement. If fertilizer is spilled or lands on paved surfaces, sweep it up and apply it to the lawn.

• Use a drop or rotary spreader with a deflector shield around waterways.

Pesticide application

• Read the pesticide label before you handle or apply it and follow directions carefully.

• Avoid applying pesticides when rain is predicted.

Grass and yard clippings

• Don’t blow grass clippings and leaves into the street or down a storm drain. These extra nutrients can reduce oxygen levels in water and potentially cause fish kills.

• Recycle clippings.

• Use a mulching mower to reduce the amount of grass clippings.

• Compost plant clippings, leaves, excess grass clippings and other plant material or bag them for curbside pick-up.

Prevent erosion

• If possible, schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather.

• Cover bare areas in the landscape with plants or mulch.

• Leave a vegetative buffer along stream banks undisturbed.

• Cover all storm drains before hydro-seeding an area.

Equipment maintenance and clean-up

• Don’t wash equipment or use cleaning chemicals where wastewater can flow to a storm drain.

• Dispose of old oil, gasoline and yard chemicals properly.

• Don’t litter. Cover or secure your truckload.

Water-efficient lawn care

• Build your soil with compost and mulch to hold water and reduce evaporation.

• Choose low-water-use plants. Once established, they can often thrive just on rainfall.

• Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation on plant beds. They can save 50 percent or more compared to sprinkler systems.

• Use an outdoor water timer available at garden stores to water the right amount at the right frequency and most effective time of day. Even better, get one with a sensor that shuts it down when it rains.

• Water lawns separately from other plantings. Make sure sprinklers aren’t watering the pavement.

• When soil is dry or compacted, it won’t absorb water quickly. If water puddles, stop watering a while and then restart so the water has time to soak in.

• Water in the early morning. If you water at midday, much of the water evaporates. Evening watering should be avoided because it can encourage the growth of mold or plant diseases.

• In a dry spell, you can allow an established lawn to go dormant. Water just once a month and brown areas of the lawn will bounce back in the fall.

Incorporate these tips in your daily lawn chores to “green up” your lawn.

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