Storm Water Run-off is a problem in every section of the United States. Some areas of course are worse than others. Every time it rains there are massive amounts of chemicals, oils, heavy metals running off our roof, through our grass and flower beds, down our driveways and into our storm drains which leads out to our natural waterways, and streams which lead to lakes and rivers.
If our ground cannot absorb the water efficiently and effectively and perk back down into our underground water supply it ends up in the storm drain. The chemicals, oils, voc’s, etc. break down the beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms that keep our lakes and streams healthy. What we end up with is an over abundance of algae which believe it or not is harmful to our eco-system. It cuts down on the oxygen levels in the water and the beneficial bacteria cannot do its job to keep the water clean and healthy for fish and fowl.
This is not something the average American sees everyday. We don’t think about where the water goes when its rushing down the street and into the storm drains. For us…it stops there. But it is actually just beginning.
We can make a difference one yard at a time. If every homeowner made simple changes, we could save our lakes, streams and rivers. Our eco-system depends on it. Not only does storm water run-off affect fish, it affects water fowl, birds, and all the animals that eat the fish, and drink from the lakes, streams and rivers.
There are many ways to reduce the amount of water that runs from your property into the storm drain:
Install Rain Barrels -Thousands of gallons of water can be captured off the average roof each year, and clean rainwater is better for plants, shrubs and lawn, washing the car, the dog etc.
Go Organic!- The use of traditional chemicals to feed your lawn and garden leach into the water every time it rains. Chemical fertilizers and controls do the most damage. Organic fertilizers and control products do not leave residual effects in the soil. Organic products come from the earth. They will not damage it.
Use Native Plants- Native plants are plants that are naturally indigenous to your specific area. You can get a list of native plants for your area by doing a web search. They are usually put out by the state. Native plants will grow better, require less water and fertilizer (organic of course), and they provide a natural habitat for our wild creatures.
Reduce the amount of Turf in your yard – Grass is over rated. It’s high maintenance! It needs to be cut weekly, Fertilized several times a year, watered constantly in hot weather, etc., etc.
Grass also cannot absorb water the way plants, trees and shrubs can. Therefore the amount of run off is greater the more turf one has. If you reduce the amount of turf by installing a bed around the perimeter of your yard and installing native plants and mulch, you can cut down your water run off significantly.
Everyone needs grass, right? Here are a few tips to help your grass absorb more water.
Aerate your lawn regularly. This breaks the tight root barrier and allows for better oxygen and water absorption. This will make your grass healthier naturally. Aerating shoes work well, use them every time you mow. You will also get a good workout. A machine aerator used yearly also does a great job.
Top dress your lawn with compost. Compost absorbs and eliminates harmful chemicals and pollution from the soil and air. Compost is also high in natural nutrients. This will reduce/eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.
When you fertilize or put down weed or insect control…GO ORGANIC! Organic fertilizers and control products are more widely available today than ever. They work well, are competitively priced with chemical fertilizers and don’t have huge warning labels. Organic Fertilizers are safe for pets, children, you and our environment. Not using them just seems silly, doesn’t it?
When you have to water – water deeply, less frequently. Watering for 20 minutes every day, for example, will keep the roots of the grass up near the surface. They will dry out very fast. If you water for 1 hour twice a week, for example, this will encourage the roots of the grass to grow deep in to the soil. This keeps the roots cooler and moist longer. The grass will require less water, even in a drought situation.
Next time it rains…watch where the water goes. Think about it. Nature is just that, natural. I think we have forgotten what natural is. Nature worked perfectly for thousands of years, until humans started trying to perfect it. The opposite happened. Modern technology we need, however we need to use it responsibly. All of us… and small changes in our lives can mean big changes(improvements) in our world.
It’s our world, our lakes, our streams and rivers, our yard… let’s take care of it.