In a recent presentation by the Chesapeake Stormwater Network, I learned that some yards are more likely to pollute waterways. While it is important that EVERY homeowner in Hampton Roads includes stormwater management practices into their landscape plan, some yards are a bigger threat than others. Read on to find out if YOUR yard makes the ‘more likely to pollute’ list:
- Overusing fertilizer – Applying too much fertilizer coats your lawn with nitrogen and phosphorous, increasing the odds those chemicals will runoff into waterways after the next rainy day. Soil testing is a foolproof way to find out how much fertilizer your lawn really needs.
- Areas of new grass – Grass that is less than 3 years old has weak and shallow roots that soak up less rainwater. Help roots get stronger by keeping grass heights at 2 or 3 inches high when mowing.
- Steep slopes – Yards with slopes of 15 percent or more don’t give rain time to seep into soil, producing lots of stormwater runoff. But slopped yards are a great opportunity for rain gardens which capture stormwater runoff and help filter pollution.
- Exposed soil – Bare areas of dirt provide little opportunity for rainwater to soak into the ground and may even add more pollution in the form of sediments like grit, sand, and dirt. For an easy fix, seed bare spots with grass seed or plant plants that are more likely to thrive in harsher conditions.
- Overwatering lawns – If your yard is already soaked with water, it won’t have room for the extra water when it falls from the sky. Watch this great video from the Virginia Cooperative Extension to learn how to water the right way.
- Soils that are shallow/compacted – Yards with shallow or compacted soil can’t absorb much water. This includes yards with a high water table (within 3 feet of the surface). Soil amendments, compost and lots of plants can help reduce stormwater runoff in these types of yards.
- Within 300 feet of a waterway – Waterfront yards don’t provide much time to stop runoff before it flows into waterways. It’s so important that waterfront property owners use a variety of stormwater management practices to prevent pollution and slow down runoff.
- Athletic fields and golf courses – To keep golf courses and athletic fields green, facilities often use extra fertilizer and water. But there are alternatives – like the strategies outlined in the Environmental Best Management Practices for Virginia’s Golf Courses from the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
For everything you need to know on having the greenest yard in town, check out the askHRgreen Your Yard resources.