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Smart choices in your yard will help keep ponds healthy

Posted: July 14, 2020

 
Smart choices in your yard will help keep ponds healthy

 
 
Fertilizer choices you make for your own yard end up impacting ponds
and waterways in the RM, like Silver Springs, shown here.

 

As the weather warms up, we typically find ourselves spending more time enjoying the great outdoors. Some of us also associate warmer weather with dedicating more time to our lawns and flowerbeds. While working hard to beautify our properties, we can make choices that will also help to keep our neighborhood ponds and waterways healthy.


Do a soil test


Before adding anything to your lawn or garden, it is useful to do a soil test to determine exactly what your soil needs.  Picking a blend that addresses your lawn’s or garden’s specific concerns will be better for your plants, and could even save you money.  Soil tests are easy to use, and are usually available to purchase at home and garden stores.  You may also want to consider top-dressing your soil with compost as an alternative to fertilizer.

While picking up a new bag of fertilizer, try to look for blends that are phosphorous free.  Phosphorous is a slow moving nutrient, and your soil may already have an excess amount.  Fertilizer bag labels will state the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in that order, in the form of three numbers such as 5-10-10.  The numbers refer to the percentage of each nutrient the fertilizer contains.  Look for a 0 in the middle spot, which indicates a phosphorous free blend.  Excess nutrients may be carried from the soil during rain events, which results in runoff draining into our waterways.  Nutrient filled runoff can contribute to algae blooms and excessive aquatic weed growth.


Slow your mow

If your yard backs onto a water source, consider maintaining a buffer zone where you keep your grass tall.  Tall grass helps prevent runoff by absorbing more water with its denser root systems.  Tall grass also serves a dual purpose it makes the area less attractive to geese who can also contribute excess nutrients to the ponds with their fecal matter.  Even if you don’t back onto a waterway, long grass can help prevent nutrient-rich runoff into street drains, which also carry water into the ponds.

After mowing, don’t forget to clean up. Another source of nutrients into the pond system can come from fresh grass clippings.  Grass clippings left on the banks or street are carried during rain events through the storm drains or straight into the water bodies.  They also bring all of their nutrients with them!  You can help with this by leaving your clippings on your lawn, instead of brushing or leaf-blowing them onto the street or sidewalks, or simply dispose of them in your yard waste collection.

By making conscious choices involving our lawn care, we can all help protect our ponds and keep them healthy.

 

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