Spring is here and the grass is greening up! Water-friendly lawncare practices start with awareness and good habits, and spring is a great time to take a closer look for a fresh start. Are your lawncare habits as good as they can be? What else can you do this year to help improve the health of our watershed?
1. Cut grass at a 3" minimum height. This reduces erosion and evaporation on the lawn by allowing grass to shade the soil (reducing evaporation) and grow deeper roots. Deeper roots hold more water on the property before becoming saturated. Once saturated, lawns contribute to runoff that carries sediment and nutrients into streets, wetlands, and lakes.
2. Cut only 1/3 of the blade at a time. Even if the lawn was neglected for a time, cutting extra short to make up for lost time stresses the grass and its ability to hold water.
3. Watch for over watering. Grass that's mushy underfoot, has a musty odor, or sprouts mushrooms, moss, or mold are signs of over watering.
4. Visit a commercial car wash which sends wash water to a treatment plant. Unlike a car wash, washing at home sends soap, oil, salt, and grime directly to a lake or wetland. To be experimental, try washing cars on the lawn or use rolled-up towels to divert runoff away from the street and into grass or gravel.
5. Water plants and grass early in the morning or in the evening to reduce evaporation.
6. Set sprinklers and irrigation systems to not spray onto pavement.
7. Direct downspouts to point to grassy areas instead of pavement. This can be an easy fix in areas with no basement, or could mean extending to longer downspouts to keep drainage 10' away from the foundation.
8. Divide typical watering time in half, and water twice. Two short water sessions prevent water from running off the lawn, helping the lawn hold the water it does get.
9. Use sprinklers that keep water low to the ground, and reduce evaporation by selecting a sprinkler that disperses water in a stream rather than a mist.
10. Don't "set it and forget it." As the season goes from early to late summer and into fall, rain patterns also change. Adjust irrigation systems weekly according to rainfall, and cut back on days of watering as temperatures decrease.
11. Wait to fertilize in the fall. Fall is when the grass will absorb more of the fertilizer, reducing runoff. Grass needs it more at this time to prepare for winter.
12. Plant native plants/perennials, install a rainbarrel, raingarden, or permeable pavers. See VLAWMO's grant programs to get started!
Your street is the connection between the yard and the lake. Sign-up to adopt a stormdrain or gather a volunteer group for a community street clean-up. Visit our service opportunities page for more information.