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Greener Grass, Greener Rivers

Posted on May 28, 2015 by | Comments (0)

Algae Wet PondEvery spring, all homeowners in my neighborhood receive a notice that they must weed, feed and overseed their lawns. This letter is cringe-worthy. Why, you ask? Well, excess lawn chemicals are one of the top polluters to our local waterways. When too much or needless chemicals are applied to lawns and landscapes, spring rain showers carry them into our neighborhood stormwater ponds or local waterways. In my neighborhood, the association notice to weed, feed and overseed is typically followed by the stormwater ponds in our neighborhood turning green, cloudy and covered in slime (aka algae). The same thing is happening to our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, albeit on a larger scale, as homeowners across the east coast try to green up their lawns in early spring.

No fertilizer was used in the greening of this yard!

No fertilizer was used in the greening of this yard!

So what’s the best course of action if and when you get the “You Must Fertilize” notice in your mailbox?

  •  Know Your Grass. If your grass is in full sun and turns brown at the first signs of frost, you likely have warm season grasses that like fertilizer applications early in the spring. However, if your grass grows well most of the year except in the extreme heat of summer, you probably have cool season grass which likes fertilizer in the fall. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Hampton Roads is better suited for warm-season grasses but the predominant lawn grass continues to be the cool-season tall fescue.
  • Test Your Soil. Follow these simple steps to collect a soil sample from your lawn and then have it tested.  This simple, low or no cost testing will tell you whether or not you need to fertilize to have healthy grass. Soil here in Hampton Roads tends to be naturally fertile making the process of fertilizing a costly mistake – both on our budgets and our local water quality. If extra nutrients are recommended, your report will also help you learn how much chemical is safe to put down. Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office for more information.
  • Consider natural alternatives. Fertilizing doesn’t have to be your standard off-the-shelf bag of chemicals. Learn more about incorporating compost, mulched yard debris or other natural sources of fertilizer.  
  • Practice patience. Mother Nature will work her magic but you must be patient. Let the temperatures warm up, let the April showers drench your lawn and by mid-May you’ll be surprised how much progress your lawn has made naturally. Grass roots need a little time to grow before they can fuel green blades of grass. And stronger, deeper roots mean a more resilient (and less thirsty) lawn during the dry spells of summer.  So don’t even consider fertilizer until April (for warm season grasses) or September (for cold season grasses).

Stop-and-think-before-fertilizing-this-spring Keep reading for more good-to-do tips for an eco-friendly (and attractive) lawn this summer!

 Not a do-it-yourselfer? Ask these questions to your lawn care provider to make sure your grass is as “green” as you think!

Posted in: Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips, Waterways

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Take the Pledge for Cleaner Waterways

Posted on May 19, 2015 by | Comments Off

Rover-River-LOGO

Here’s the scoop:

Poop pollutes!

Did you know that pet waste is one of the leading causes of harmful bacteria in our local waterways? In addition to being unsightly, pet waste gets washed into nearby storm drains, ponds, and rivers when it rains and becomes a major source of nitrogen and bacteria pollution. This excess nitrogen and bacteria is responsible for cloudy, green, foul-smelling water; aquatic dead zones; declines in local fish and crab populations;  and beach closures. Yuck!

The average-sized dog creates a half pound of poop every day. That’s a lot of pollution that could be finding its way into our waterways! So what can you do to help? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

  • Take the pledge to Scoop the Poop!
  • Scoop it, bag it and trash it each and every time (whether in your own yard or out for a walk).
  • Share the pledge with others in your community. A conversation with your neighbor, an email to a coworker or sharing on Facebook and Twitter are all perfect ways to get the word out to the dog lovers in your life.

Last year the “From Rover to River – No Poop Left Behind” partners sent over 60,000 emails encouraging residents to sign the Scoop the Poop pledge and received nearly 600 pledges in just 3 days! And if you need help remembering why you’ve gotta pick up the poop – just remember this catchy jingle!

A BIG scratch behind the ears to our scoop the poop community partners:

Chesapeake Humane Society | Elizabeth River Project | James River Association | Lafayette Wetlands Partnership | Nansemond River Preservation Alliance | Norfolk SPCA | People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals | Virginia Beach SPCA

Posted in: Don't litter!, Outdoor tips, Waterways

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Hampton Roads On Tap

Posted on May 4, 2015 by | Comments Off

T400x220_color_DWWlogohe experts here at askHRgreen.org get asked lots of questions from residents of Hampton Roads who want an easier, greener lifestyle. But lately we’ve been thinking it would be fun to turn the tables and ask residents a few questions of our own. So we decided to hit the streets to find out what you know about our most precious resource…water!

In honor of Drinking Water Week, May 3-9, we are pleased to premiere our new What Do You Know? video series with a conversation about tap water. Do you think you’d know the answers to these questions? You might be surprised how much there is to learn about something we all use every single day. For instance, did you know that tap water provides us with…

  • A low-cost way to stay hydrated,
  • Public health and fire protection and
  • Nearly every product that we use every day?

Because of tap water, we stay hydrated, healthy and happy. We hope you enjoy this first installment of askHRgreen.org’s What Do You Know? series and stay tuned for more!

 

 

 

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Community events, Going Green, Household tips, HR Green campaign updates, Using water wisely, Waterways

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Last minute ways to celebrate Earth Day

Posted on April 21, 2015 by | Comments Off

Celebrate TreesTomorrow is Earth Day and most people will be suggesting that you plant a tree, bike to work, grow your own food, organize an Earth Day education event and more. These are all great ways to celebrate this great big planet we all call home. But we get it, you’re busy! You don’t have a sapling on hand, you can’t bike the kids to daycare and you’re unlikely to go till up a garden plot when you get home from work. You’ve got a lot on your plate, we totally get it. But don’t despair, askHRgreen.org is here to save the day! These last minute ideas are easy, no-fuss ways that everyone can celebrate Earth Day…even those with a busy calendar.

  • Recycle or donate an old cellphone. You know you have an old cellphone hanging out in the back of your junk drawer at home. Dust it off and let it have a second life through reuse or recycling. There are many convenient drop-off locations throughout Hampton Roads where your old phone could be donated to servicemen and women or recycled through an approved recycling program.
  • Get a car wash. Go get your car pollen-free! It’s actually more eco-friendly to get a professional car wash than the DIY driveway job. Shocking, I know. Professional car washes typically use less water in the washing process and send the dirty water into the wastewater system instead of the nearest storm drain. You can locate a WaterSavers certified car wash here.
  • Refuse a plastic bag. Do you really need a plastic bag for your two item purchase? Probably not. Just say no to the plastic shopping bag this Earth Day unless you really need it. And ladies? Don’t forget about that reusable bag we all carry on our arm….the purse!
  • Drop-off plastic bags for recycling. Speaking of plastic bags, are you a plastic bag horder? Do you have a giant collection of plastic bags shoved under a sink or into a closet somewhere in your house? If so, celebrate Earth Day by rounding up your plastic bag collection and dropping them off at your local grocery store for recycling. They could become composite wood fences or decks in no time!
  • Turn it off. For Earth Day, be mindful of what you leave on. Once you’re paying attention, you’ll be surprised by how often you carelessly or needlessly use unnecessary resources. Whatever it is, the lights, faucet, computer, TV – just turn them off when not in use. This is the simplest way to reduce your impact on the Earth.                                                                                                      
  • Go paperless. Most companies now offer online account services like electronic bill pay and online account statements. There’s no need to waste trees on paper statements and bills with these convenient online services. You can also opt out of junk mail to go one step further. Enrolling in these paperless options is one quick way to reduce waste!
  • Put trash in its place. If you saw a $20 bill on the ground, chances are you’d lunge for it! But how often do we notice and ignore litter in our community? If only for Earth Day, pledge to pick up litter when you see it and place it in an appropriate trash or recycling receptacle. You’ll make the Earth and your neighbors smile.
  • Get outside to play. We are blessed with so many natural resources in Hampton Roads yet most of us spend so little time enjoying them. Set aside an hour to take a walk, go fishing, lounge on the beach or just enjoy the blooming spring flowers this Earth Day.

See how easy it is to do something green to celebrate Earth Day? No saplings, helmets or garden plots required! Happy Earth Day!

Posted in: Going Green, Holidays

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A Green Breakfast for Hampton Roads

Posted on April 13, 2015 by | Comments Off

GreenBreakfastPicThe Green Breakfast is coming to Hampton Roads! No, it’s not green eggs and ham, but it is a new opportunity for residents to learn about matters that affect our environment. The Hampton Roads Green Breakfast will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Virginia Wesleyan College’s Blocker Hall. The topic for this first installment of eco-friendly information sharing and networking will be: Energy Options & The Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project: Understanding the Economic, Environmental and Safety Issues for our Region and Virginia.

Attendees of The Green Breakfast will enjoy informal networking and group announcements over a light breakfast from 8:00 to 8:30am. Presentations will take place from 8:30 to 9:45 am. The program will feature presentations from Kirk Bowers of the Virginia Sierra Club and James Clary, Senior Economist, with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC). Mr. Bowers will discuss the Pipeline project and Mr. Clary will provide an overview of the 2014 HRPDC economics report on the viability of different energy options in the region. The event is free and open to the public and you can register here.

The Green Breakfast was originally held in the 1990s as an informal gathering for environmental leaders and citizens to learn more about the environmental issues facing Hampton Roads. It was hosted by various organizations but went into hiatus in recent years. This new version of the event is intended to shed light on different sides of an issue and foster greater collaboration and sharing of ideas among diverse viewpoints. Events are planned quarterly on Saturday mornings, and moved to different parts of Hampton Roads to reach a broad range of interested citizens.

This first installment of The Hampton Roads Green Breakfast on April 25 is sponsored by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, askHRgreen.org, and hosted by the Marlins Go Green Club of Virginia Wesleyan College. The Moderator will be John Deuel, Owner of GreenQuest, LLC. For more information, contact John Deuel at 757-284-7041 or via email at jdeuel@greenquestllc.com.

Posted in: Community events, Uncategorized

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