Fall has arrived in Hampton Roads—and just in time, following a hot, humid Hampton Roads summer. Now that muggy days are giving way to cool, dry weather, it’s a great time to see what chores are needed to take back your curb appeal.
Caring for your lawn sometimes means cutting grass, gathering fallen leaves and adding fertilizer to your soil. And when it does, what you do next is critical… Don’t rake, sweep, blow it or allow any excess into the street. Why? Because wind and rain pushes it all down the storm drains and into our waterways where it causes blockages, pollution and kills our fish and crabs.
Ugh. Nobody wants that.
The good news is, there are ways to keep area storm drains clean AND your lawn healthy at the same time!
Clear out and clean up yard debris.
- Prune trees, summer blooming perennials and warm season annuals.
- Hand-pull weeds and invasive lawn grass from flowerbeds.
- Rake leaves into flowerbeds or natural areas of your yard to provide habitat for overwintering pollinators. You can also bag or mulch-mow your leaves; just don’t let them enter the storm drain. Leaves can clog storm drains contributing to local street flooding and fuel oxygen-depleting algal growth when they enter local waterways and decompose.
- Know your locality’s collection schedule and requirements for yard debris disposal.
Tend to lawn and garden needs.
- Complete an inexpensive soil test before using lawn fertilizer. If the test reveals your soil does need a boost, remember that cool season grasses (fescue, rye) should be fertilized in the fall, while warm season grasses (zoysia, centipede, Bermuda, St. Augustine) should be fertilized in the spring.
- Seed bare spots in your lawn to prevent erosion.
- When mowing, leave grass clippings on the lawn, where they can break down and return nitrogen to the soil naturally.
- Assess your flowerbeds and landscape design and consider using more native plants and less lawn. Trees, shrubs and hardy perennials that are already acclimated to the area can beautify your home, while requiring less water and upkeep.
- Apply or refresh mulch in flower beds to control erosion, retain moisture and stabilize the soil temperature. Bonus: A two-inch layer of mulch can reduce or eliminate weeds.
- Water only as needed. Unneeded irrigation promotes disease and weed infestation, while wasting valuable H20.
GOOD TO DO
- Attend an upcoming gardening expo or plant sale to purchase new plants or to get free expert advice on your hard-to-solve landscaping problems.
- If you’re using a lawn care company, make sure they have a Green & Clean Initiative certification with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Nutrient Management Program. Companies with this certification have pledged to voluntarily implement responsible lawn care practices.
- For landscaping projects, look for companies that are certified through the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professionals program, ensuring they are properly educated in the design, installation and maintenance of sustainable landscaping techniques.
- Sign up to be a Bay Star Home or Bay Star Business participant, by agreeing to adopt certain steps to make our region green and beautiful.