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Lawns and pests: Stormwater awareness for spring 2014

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lightning strikes on the horizon behind the flightline here during a thunderstorm Sept. 3.  During the storm, power in some areas of the base was interrupted for a few minutes.  (U.S. Air Force photo by James Shryne)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lightning strikes on the horizon behind the flightline here during a thunderstorm Sept. 3. During the storm, power in some areas of the base was interrupted for a few minutes. (U.S. Air Force photo by James Shryne)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Fertilizers and pesticides will make your grass thick and green, your flowers colorful, a vegetable crop explosive, and keep the bugs from ruining all the fun. It is important to recognize that many of the pesticides and fertilizers could have hazardous chemicals that could contaminate the ground water or could leave your property and enter the nearby street, inlet, or creek.

Here is some information to help you explore alternative methods:
  • This year commit to using fewer pesticides. We all encounter pest issues throughout the year, but there are less toxic ways to control and eliminate them. Green Planet Ethics has several recipes for make at home pest controls here.
  • For specific pest control options the site Beyond Pesticides has a great index on their website here.
  • Not only will you be protecting your home, family and pets, but you will be helping the bees. To learn more about bees read this guide.
Give your lawn a facial this year:
In spring it is important to aerate your lawn to make the most of the water that you apply. Aerating pulls out small cores of soil 3 to 5 inches deep. Although they look strange they will break down after a few rain events and your lawn will be much happier afterwards. Seeding after aerating will help fill in a patchy lawn too.
Mud Mask:
After aerating, instead of using a chemical fertilizer, spread some compost to provide nutrients to your lawn or garden all summer. Compost comes from decomposed yard waste and food leftovers. Organic composts add the same nutrients to the soil as commercial chemical fertilizers. According to the National Gardening Association, they also improve soil texture by increasing drainage, aeration and the ability of sandy soils to retain nutrients.
The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning when the air temperature is cool to allow the water to soak into the ground before it evaporates. Typically allowed watering times in the Metro area are 6:00 PM to 10:00 AM, some areas have been known to ticket those found watering outside of these hours. You should also stop lawn watering when water runs off the turf. If you have clay soils, you may need to water multiple times in a short period of time to help the water soak into the ground and prevent runoff.
Scoop the poop! Pick up dog, cat, and other pet waste from your yard to help your lawn and waterways. In waterways pet waste encourages the growth of algae and the bacteria in the pet waste may cause disease. In your lawn it will cause nitrogen burn and brown spots.
Now that you've got a lush green lawn, it will need regular maintenance. Grass mowed to 3" holds water in the soil better than grass mowed to 2" because there is more shade protecting the soil from drying out in the sun. Also, the grass clippings from a mulching lawn mower do not need to be raked off the lawn. The clippings will further promote water retention. More frequent mowing is generally required earlier in the year before the hotter months.

Use and dispose of harmful materials properly; don't dump them on the ground or outside. Hazardous waste that is dumped on or buried in the ground can contaminate the soil and can move down into the ground water or be carried into nearby surface waters by runoff during rainstorms. Products like motor oil, pesticides, paints or paint cans, mothballs, flea collars, weed killers, household cleaners and even a number of medicines contain materials that can be harmful to surface water and ground water.

Report pollution incidents and spills to 460th Civil Engineer Squadron Water Quality Program at 720-308-4655/6308 or to 460th CES customer service at 720-847-9913.
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