Keep storm drains clean for those downstream

Natural methods of lawn care in conjunction with chemicals can produce a healthy lawn and protect water quality, according to the Garrison Environmental Office.

The routine overuse of lawn fertilizers and weed killers can indirectly harm streams, rivers and ponds. Sole reliance on chemicals is no longer justified for maintaining a beautiful lawn. Rather, natural methods of lawn care in conjunction with chemicals can produce a healthy lawn and protect water quality. This happens because grasses can filter pollutants (fertilizers, herbicides, sediment) and some types can control weeds and require less fertilizer and water. Here are some tips:

• Mowing – Don’t mow too close to the ground; taller grass produces deeper roots and controls weeds. … Practice “grass recycling,” and leave clippings on the lawn to provide natural fertilization (do not blow them into ditches or streams). … Do not mow wet grass; this causes clumping. … Use composted yard waste as mulch and soil conditioner.

• Fertilizers – Fertilizers contain nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) that can harm water quality by causing undesirable plants to grow in streams and ponds, blocking oxygen from the fish. Fertilizers high in nitrates (nitrogen) are more likely to enter streams because they are released more quickly. Do not apply fertilizer when the ground is frozen, before or after heavy rain or irrigation, during cold weather (less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit) and directly into, or near, streams, ponds or ditches. … Minimize application rates on slopes. … Apply according to label directions. … Use fertilizers labeled “slowly available nitrogen” on sandy soils since they are less likely to enter streams. … Base fertilizer applications on a representative soil test that shows the amounts of nutrients in the soil, waiting three to four weeks after the last fertilization. … Aerate compacted soil to aid incorporation and reduce runoff. … Maintain a vegetated buffer zone between frequently fertilized lawns and streams to prevent pollution and provide uptake of nutrients.

You should water carefully to prevent runoff and leaching. And water in the early morning for optimal results.

For more information call the Garrison Environmental Office, storm water program manager, at 955-8501.

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