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Proper lawn care, along with composting, can help you do your part to prevent stormwater pollution while improving the soil and plant life on your property. Proper lawn care techniques are directly linked to keeping neighborhood streams and water bodies healthy. Excessive amounts of fertilizer and pesticides can harm fish and other aquatic life as well as degrade the quality of rivers, lakes, and streams. Nutrients from fertilizers, namely phosphates, enter rivers, lakes, and streams and stimulate the growth of algae. Excessive algae growth can decrease oxygen levels in waterways, which can kill fish and other aquatic life.
Composting is the earth's way of naturally recycling old plant material. When mixed with soil, compost improves soil structure, adds a wide variety of minerals and nutrients, and improves the soil's ability to retain moisture. By using composting in your own back yard you can manage your yard waste, improve your soil, and prevent stormwater pollution.
For example, in autumn, fallen leaves raked or blown into the street enter storm drains and end up in our waterways, resulting in an overload of organic materials in rivers and streams. The decomposition of organic material can increase nutrient loads, decrease dissolved oxygen concentration, and lead to excessive algae growth, all affecting the health and vitality of waterways. Composting keeps that organic matter and nutrient content in your yard and out of the waterways, reducing stormwater pollution and keeping our rivers, lakes, and streams clean.
For more information about composing and how to get started, visit the UGA Extension website, where you can also find specific information about recycling landscape trimmings. You can also check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's composting homepage or the Clean Water Campaign.
Water Wise Landscaping
Water wise landscaping, also referred to as water-efficient landscaping, creates landscapes that incorporate native vegetation and do not require a significant amount of water or excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers. Water wise landscapes save water and time by requiring less routine care than most traditional landscapes. When a landscape achieves water wise status, at least 60 percent of the total landscaped area is considered "low water use" and watered exclusively by rainfall. Visit our Water Conservation page for tips on how to conserve water when setting up your water wise landscape.
To learn more, visit the UGA Extension website, where you can find an in-depth water wise landscape guide and a seven-step approach to water wise landscaping. You can also check out the EPA’s Water-Smart Landscapes brochure.
For more information about how you can protect the environment and reduce stormwater pollution, visit Protecting Our Waterways.