Green Grass Clear Water

Spending more time than usual at home these days due to the novel coronavirus pandemic? Thinking about working on the lawn or digging in the garden? Whether you are looking to enjoy more time outside or engage your children in a project, this season is a great time to develop some new habits that will improve your green thumb, help protect the environment, and save money. Whatever we do in our yards affects lakes, rivers, streams and bays downhill. By adopting a few simple practices, we can protect the health of water bodies we love while taking care of ourselves and the people around us by sheltering at home.

Water wisely 
Our lawns and gardens need about one inch of water per week, which is about the annual average amount of rainfall in northern New England. During dry spells, especially later in the summer, it may be necessary to water or irrigate to reach that amount. On the other hand, overwatering wastes water and can cause nutrients needed by plants to run off the property or leach deep into the soil out of reach of plant roots. Place a rain gauge or empty bean or tuna can out in the yard and check it weekly to see if the rain has reached a one inch mark. Only water or irrigate when the rainfall drops below that one inch weekly average. Learn more about watering wisely here: 

mowerMeasure twice - fertilize correctly
Whether you are interested in over seeding a lawn, adjusting the soil pH with lime, top dressing with compost, or applying fertilizer, you will need to know the dimensions of the lawn area in order to purchase and/or apply the correct amount of seed, lime, compost, or fertilizer. Overapplying compost or fertilizer, in particular, can create water quality problems in lakes, rivers, and bays downstream, so it’s very important to apply only what’s needed, if it’s needed.

The best way to make sure you are adding just the right number of seeds or spreading the appropriate amount of fertilizer is to measure your yard in square feet.  So get out your geometry skills - or ask your kids - and measure the edges of your lawn. 

Here’s a handy guide to measuring lawn dimensions and calibrating a spreader to make sure you are applying only what’s needed and no more:

Dispose of grass clippings correctly
One way to help your lawn handle the stress of summer is to leave the clippings in place.  If your lawn is wet, long, or mulching in place is not an option, please recycle your grass and yard clippings. Make sure they don't end up in a wetland or waterway.

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