By now, it’s probably becoming impossible to ignore all those leaves falling in your yard. If you tried mulching leaves last year, you probably found that you saved yourself some serious time and money by using your mower to mulch leaves into your lawn (free nutrients) and by re-purposing excess leaves (free mulch) to provide cover for your landscaped areas.
If you’ve never tried these techniques, maybe this is the time to move on from hours of blowing and bagging, the cost of buying mulch and fertilizer, and the effort involved in loading and bringing all these materials home – to that solution that just fell into your yard! It’s best to mulch leaves into your lawn every week or so to make the volume of leaves more manageable for you and utilized more efficiently by your lawn.
Try using your lawnmower with the bag attachment on to shred and collect leaves prior to spreading on landscaped areas. Shredding before spreading reduces matting and creates a more uniform appearance. If you simply can’t let go of the more manicured look that commercially produced mulch gives your landscape, try spreading a thin layer of purchased mulch over a layer of shredded leaves.
Not many friendships could stand the test of time like the relationship between people and their pets. Archaeologists have found evidence that humans began domesticating dogs 16,000 years ago to help with hunting, herding, and protection.
Throughout the ages, people also have kept dogs as companions. No wonder we refer to dogs as ’man’s best friend’. According to the Humane Society, Americans own 78 million dogs. And not to leave out feline fanciers, cats were domesticated 8,000 years ago when people noticed their usefulness in keeping rats and other vermin away from harvested grain. Today in the United States, more than 86 million cats allow humans to own them.
We love our pets and want to keep them healthy and safe. One important step is picking up and properly disposing of pet waste. An average sized dog produces about 1/2 pound of waste per day. Multiply that by the 150,000 dogs owned by Jefferson County residents, and we are talking about nearly 38 tons of dog waste! If you’ve ever stepped into one of those lovely piles, you know how annoying that can be.
But pet waste is more than just a nuisance – it is a health hazard. The average pile of dog waste contains 2.5 billion fecal coliform bacteria as well as viruses and parasites. These pathogens can live in both soil and water, and people and pets are at risk of illness if they are exposed to them. That’s why pet waste should never be added to compost or used as fertilizer – and should always be kept out of storm drains! As with anything else left on the ground, stormwater can wash pet waste into the nearest waterway.
So what is the most environmentally friendly solution to disposing of your pet’s waste? It’s as easy as: 1- Always pick it up. 2 – Bag it. 3 – Trash it.
Turning Trash into Treasure with Backyard Composting – July 17.
Learn how to turn your yard and kitchen waste into free soil. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Cost is $10. Contact the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at 205.879.6964 x10 by July 15 to register.
Big Ideas for Small Spaces – July 24.
Container gardening and composting with worms (yes, worms) are ideal for cramped locations. Instructor: Vasha Rosenblum. Free Lunch and Learn Seminar Series, 11:30 – 12:30, Birmingham Botanical Gardens Auditorium. Light refreshments served.
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
Actually, a lot! During a one inch rain, a 1,000 square foot roof has about 600 gallons of stormwater running off of it. That’s 600 gallons that are moving very quickly, picking up whatever is on the ground in your yard, carrying it into the storm drainage system, and emptying into the nearest waterway. There are many ways to reduce the amount of stormwater that leaves your yard. Collecting roof runoff in a rain barrel and using it later for yard irrigation, or diverting downspouts to a rain garden or natural area to allow water to soak into the ground are just a few. How much stormwater runs off your roof? Just multiply the roof square footage X 0.6 (gallons per square foot per inch of rain).
When it comes to stormwater pollution, the middle is where it all happens. From your roof to the nearest waterway, anything on the ground or exposed to rain can become a pollutant! And most of these sources of stormwater pollution come from our everyday practices: fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from yards and gardens, motor oil and grease from miles of roads and parking lots, heavy metals from roofs, eroded soil from construction sites and home landscaping projects, waste from pets, and litter and trash are carried by stormwater into the storm drainage system where it all flows untreated into waterways.
If you consider that 659,000 people live in Jefferson County, the amount of stormwater pollution that we generate each day is….. well, it’s a lot. And since we get about 54 inches of rain each year, managing stormwater in your yard is a good place to start. Anything that slows it down, spreads it out, and allows it to soak into the ground will make a positive difference in our water quality.
Creating natural areas and planting trees in your yard are excellent ways to prevent stormwater from leaving your property. Depending upon their size, trees can absorb hundreds of gallons of stormwater every year. In addition, the leaf canopy slows rain drops while the root system helps anchor the soil, reducing erosion. When selecting and planting a tree, make sure that the site you choose will accommodate its full grown size as well as its water and sunlight requirements.
Reducing the need for irrigation and chemicals is another way to make your yard more stormwater friendly. Consider using pavers to transform some existing high-maintenance turf areas into permeable patios or paths. Pavers that are set into sand or gravel are a decorative and easy addition to your yard, and allow stormwater to soak into the ground. Your new path or patio also will reduce yard maintenance since it won’t require mowing!
Mark Your Calendar!
Four Legged Gardening. Grab a lunch and head to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for a free Lunch & Learn Seminar from 11:30 – 12:30. Discover how to create a safe environment for your pets by learning the difference between pet friendly and unfriendly plants.
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management