Sunday, March 21, 2010

Prevent Dangerous Water Run-off - Plant Grass

When it rains, or when that seemingly bottomless pile of snow finally starts to melt, run-off season begins. Run-off is the accumulation of chemicals from grass and other plant fertilizers and pesticides, as well as from animal waste products, litter, detergent from washing your car, de-icing chemicals, and lots of other everyday pollutants that we generate.

These pollutants are caught up in the flow of water and follow it on its journey down the path of least resistance. If left unchecked, they find their way into run-off canals, then streams and eventually into lakes and rivers, even drinking water reservoirs. So, we all need to do our part to make sure that water polluted by us stays put.

Now, obviously, the water’s flow will encounter more resistance when it tries to move across the thick, springy turf of a well tended lawn, than say a nice, smooth driveway constructed of asphalt or concrete. So, it’s a good idea to make sure that the bulk of your yard is planted in grasses and other root-dense, low growing shrubbery designed to prevent erosion and water run off. Drain your driveway into denser areas, planted with taller grasses and other shrubs that don’t mind wet feet. You can contain run off with the right plan, a willingness to exert effort, spend time and, of course, a few carefully chosen grass seeds.

Not all grasses work well at slowing or stopping run off. Grasses that grow below the soil, called clumping grasses, have masses of intertwined roots that help them keep their footing, even in rushing current. Fescue is a good, solid clumping grass that is also drought tolerant.

It comes in several varieties, tolerates a wide range of climates, and one company even has come out with a Fescue Grass with it seeds coated with natural bacteria in order to replenish soil that has been drained of this vital material by other grasses and their maintenance. This grass would be an excellent tool to prevent run off. Along with Fescue, consider Zoysiagrass. This imported grass is a good turf builder, keeping a nice dense structure below the soil. The denser the sod, or the turf, the less likely water is going to dig in and rip channels in it, allowing water to run off into nearby streets and storm drains.

In addition to traditional lawn grasses, many nature lovers are turning to native grasses to keep their yards green and, environmentally friendly. These grasses require less watering and often never need fertilizing. Even better, most are already primed to resist the local pests. Of course, not all varieties of native grasses lend themselves to an attractive lawn. So they might not work for you.

To choose the best grass to fight run off, first look at your space. Do you have a big yard that slopes towards the storm drains? Is it small enough you could plant heavy border grasses around the perimeter to trap run off? Would it look good sporting native grasses? If you opt to plant any grass to keep water run off to a minimum, choose a dense growing, clumping variety that works in your area. Ask at your local garden center and remember to fertilize and treat for pest with green, earth-friendly products.

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