Fall Tips for a Healthy Lawn and Clean Water
As the temperature begins to drop and the days become shorter, perhaps the last thing on your mind is yard work. Winter is right around the corner, so now is a great time to prepare your yard before the cold and wet months. Here are some tips from Butler Soil and Water Conservation District to ensure a healthy lawn for next year.
Leaf management: It may be tempting to let the colorful leaves stay on your lawn for a while, but if you want healthy yard, it is important to prevent them from smothering your lawn as they can eventually damage grass. It is also important to prevent leaves from entering nearby stormwater drains, ditches, and culverts. When leaves enter the stormwater drainage system, they can clog pipes or be carried directly to the nearest stream or river. There they will decompose, using up available oxygen in the water and release nutrients into the waterbody, promoting algae growth in the warmer months.
The simplest solution, depending upon the quantity of leaves, is to simply chop the with the mower and allow them to decompose into your lawn. This adds free nutrients back to your soil. If you have a lot of leaves in your yard, you may want to mulch or rake some of them up. If you rake them, think about using the leaves to cover your gardens over winter, or add them to compost as they are a great source of carbon. You may also want to check if your municipality has leaf collection services. Just remember to prevent leaves from washing into stormwater drains, ditches, and culverts! Remember though, the leaves are home to many species of insect in your garden. If you can leave some undisturbed in some garden beds, they may become home to some butterfly chrysalis or ladybugs.
Cover your bare soil: Did you know sediment is one of the largest sources of pollution to our streams and rivers? Sediment enters into waterways through runoff and erosion of bare soil. Too much sediment can degrade the quality of water for drinking, wildlife, and the land surrounding streams and rivers. Sediment can clog stormwater drains, transport other pollutants into waterways, and prevent light from penetrating through water which essential for a functioning ecological system. However, you can do your part to prevent sediment entering our waterways. Cover any bare soil on your property with mulch (this can include leaves!) or vegetation. If there is a large amount of bare soil on your property, consider installing erosion control blankets and temporary fiber rolls to prevent sediment eroding into nearby streams.
Winterizing rain barrels: Winter will be here shortly so remember to winterize your rain barrels! The freeze-thaw temperatures we experience in southwest Ohio can be harsh on the barrels. Keep your rain barrels damage-free during the winter season by following these easy steps.
Start by draining the barrel and disconnecting the gutter. Replace the rain barrel with a temporary gutter extension to shed water away from your foundation. Next, give your barrel a good clean with a power washer or scrub brush to remove any buildup inside. Disassemble and remove any hoses and valves to prevent damage from freezing temperatures. You can store the barrel outside, as long as water cannot enter it. Your rain barrel will stay safe from the winter elements and be ready to go in the Spring. Butler Soil and Water Conservation District has resources and advice for residents wishing to install rain barrels on their property and can answer questions related to assembly and maintenance, please contact our office at (513) 887-3720.
Thank you for taking the time to protect our natural resources this fall!