Using healthy lawn care practices is one step toward cleaner rivers and lakes – even if you don’t have waterfront property. For example, a lot of sediment and algae problems could be relieved if yard clippings were kept out of street catch basins leading to our waterways. Instead, sweep them back on the lawn so they can decompose. Clippings are mostly water, and break down quickly to return valuable nutrients to the soil.
Local municipalities are doing their part by collecting yard waste roadside or accepting it at drop-off locations. You can do your part by preventing the problems at the source.
Create a compost pile!
Outdoor compost piles are a great way to make use of leaves, garden wastes, coffee grounds and produce scraps that might otherwise be thrown out. Within a few months, you’ll find rich, earthy fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Well-aged compost (at least six months) also makes excellent potting soil.
Compost piles are easy to make and can be done in a variety of ways. Maybe you’ll want to add worms and make a vermipost pile! However you decide to compost, it’s good for your yard and for the ecosystem.
Tired of raking your leaves?
Mow ’em! Mow tree leaves in the autumn instead of raking and bagging – just raise your mower height to accommodate! After a couple of passes with the mower, leaf pieces will slowly sift down through turf. It’s an excellent way to return nutrients to the soil, and you can use them as mulch in your garden too!
How to learn more about composting
Southeast Michigan has several resources for homeowners wishing to learn more about composting. Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCRRA) has a Healthy Lawn and Garden Program for anyone in southeastern Michigan. Call 248-288-5150 weekdays to find out about programs and events, or visit www.socrra.org.
Michigan State University Extension also has a lot of information about composting, and has a Master Gardener Program. Call 248-858-0887 in Oakland County or 586-469-5063 in Macomb County to learn more.