As homeowers we make decisons everyday that impact the watershed we live in. Taking small steps to reduce our impact locally can help protect water quality, including the water we drink. It can also help preserve and create wildlife habitat and save time and money.
Design a Low Maintenance Lawn
Low maintenance lawns are those that are planned to require less watering, less fertilizer and, therefore,less time and less money to maintain. By matching your specific site conditions and family’s needs with an appropriate low maintenance grass seed mixture, it is possible to have an attractive lawn that is healthier and environmentally friendly.
fescue seed mix: http://www.sustainability.uconn.edu/pdf/fescue_to_the_rescue.pdf
soil testing: http://www.cag.uconn.edu/plsc/soiltest/index.php
home & garden programs: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/
Think Rain Barrels
A rain barrel is an ancient but simple technique that homeowners can use to intercept the rain from their roof and collect if for use during sunny weather. Did you know that just ¼ inch of rain on an average roof can fill a rain barrel? A good formula to remember: 1 inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof yields 623 gallons of water. Two or more rain barrels can be connected if desired.
local distributors in Connecticut: http://nerainbarrel.com/
build your own: http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/ed/rainbarrel.html
Use Native Plants When Landscaping
Native landscaping embraces the use of trees, shrubs, ferns, wildflowers, grasses and other plants that are indigenous to this region. Native plants that are found in a shady wooded condition will obviously be different than those found in sunny coastal areas, offering a wide variety of choices in color, texture, height and hardiness. Native plants are also best for our native creatures.
photos of native plant species: http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/
native plant sources: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2690&Q=322452
Reduce Your Impervious Footprint
Impervious surfaces on the home landscape include rooftops, paved driveways, patios and sidewalks. Areas that are somewhat impervious can also include dirt driveways and parking areas and even lawn areas that have been compacted over time. Surfaces that are impervious do not allow rainwater and snowmelt to infiltrate, which reduces groundwater recharge and increases surface run-off. Pollutants such as bacteria, excess nutrients, sediment and oil among, other things, are picked up as water flows across the surface of driveways, rooftops and lawns. These pollutants can then be carried to local streams. Although run-off from one house lot may seem insignificant compared to the size of a watershed, it is the cumulative impact of many houses that causes the concern.
alternative surfaces: http://nemo.uconn.edu/tools/stormwater/pavements.htm
examples to see: www.eltownhall.com
Create a Rain Garden
Rain gardens are shallow depressions, usually only 6 inches deep, underlain by 2-3 inches of mulch, which are situated to intercept run-off from impervious surfaces such as roof tops or driveways. They are planted with vegetation that can tolerate temporary ponded water conditions. While rainwater may seem clean, as it runs over surfaces that that have been exposed to the elements, it collects pollutants that have been deposited there, including oils, fertilizers, salt, bacteria and sediment. Generally, the first one inch of run-off contains about 90% of the pollutants.
rain gardens: http://www.uri.edu/ce/healthylandscapes/raingrden.htm
rain garden demonstration project: http://www.thamesriverbasinpartnership.org/
Compost for Healthy Soil and Plants
Composting is the decomposition of organic matter. We refer to what it produces as “compost”. It can be used in landscaping to enhance the soil.
composting products: http://www.compostguide.com/
Mulch is a ground cover commonly used as a landscaping feature. It may be used to surround plants to minimize weeds, help retain moisture or as a stand alone feature on a steeper slope or play area. While many mulch types are made from plant materials, other natural products and synthetic mulches are available to address specific gardening needs, such as long term weed control, pest resistance and walking trails.