|How does your landscape measure up?|
Just about everyone wants to improve the quality of our shrinking supply of fresh water, and we’re used to seeing millions and billions of our tax dollars spent to try to add the sparkle of life to our waterways.
Spending tax dollars wisely on conservation efforts is a good thing, in my opinion, but something even better is for each of us to take a look at our landscaping practices to see what we can do to make good old Earth a better place on which to live.
The University of Maryland Extension has created a simple “Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick” that enables us to measure how environmentally sound our landscapes are. The Yardstick awards “inches” for sound landscaping practices. If your landscaping practices total 36 inches, your landscape is “Bay-Wise.” Many of the practices rate one inch, but some rate more.
The Bay-Wise Yardstick is built on several environmentally sound principles: Control Stormwater Runoff; Encourage Wildlife; Protect the Waterfront; Mow Properly/Water Efficiently; Manage Yard Pests with Integrated Pest Management (IPM); Mulch Appropriately/Recycle Yard Waste; Fertilize Wisely; and Plant Wisely.
Here are four sample Actions that you can take in your landscape to earn some “inches”:
“Direct down spouts and gutters to drain onto the lawn, plant beds or rain gardens where rain will soak into the soil rather than running off. However, direct this water away from the house to avoid wet basement and foundation problems. Credit: 1 inch.”
“Provide, and properly maintain, a water source, such as a birdbath or small pond, for wildlife. (Change birdbath water every other day to provide a fresh, clean drink and discourage mosquitoes.) Credit: 1 inch.”
“Mow cool season grasses high (3-4 inches) to encourage a deeper, more drought- and pest-tolerant root system. A higher cut also shades out weeds. Remove no more than a third of the grass blade when you mow. Credit: 2 inches.”
“Fertilize cool season grasses (fescues, bluegrass and ryegrass) only in the Fall (September through early November). Warm season grasses such as Zoysia and Bermudagrass should only be fertilized from mid May to early June. Credit: 1 inch.”
How many inches have you added with those four simple Actions? Many of the recommended Actions won’t cost you a penny more than what you’re spending now. Some may even save you a dollar or two.
Does the Yardstick work if you don’t live in Maryland? Environmentally sound landscaping practices are important in every state, so print out the Yardstick and imagine that you’re helping your local steam or river instead of the Chesapeake Bay.
|Meadow Glenn is Bay-Wise|
Aren’t you curious to see if your landscape already is a “36”—or what you can do to help make it “measure up”? To link to the “Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick” so you can print out a copy and begin measuring your landscape, CLICK HERE.
Look for occasional future postings about how gardeners integrate Bay-Wise principles into their landscapes and gardens.