Be Yard Smart: A Guide to Environmental Gardening - University of Nebraska


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Be Yard Smart: A Guide to Environmental Gardening - University of Nebraska

  1. 1. A Guide to Environmental Gardening Fall 2005 Special Insert to University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County The NEBLINE Conserve Water with Proper Irrigation A careful homeowner avoids support zone watering. Zone wa- ing between 4 and 10 a.m. Less water isunder- or overwatering their tering means grouping plans with lost by evaporation, and disease inci-landscape. However, many people similar water requirements in the dence is reduced. Water emitters whichunintentionally overwater — which same area of the landscape. Re- distribute water uniformly at the soilneedlessly wastes water and can member all shrubs, trees, flowers surface can minimize evaporation, evenlead to foliage diseases. An estimat- and turf in a given irrigation area on windy days.ed 75–85 percent of plant problems or zone will receive the same AVOID OVERWATERINGresult from overwatering. An irriga- amount of water. The water con- — Closely observing landscape plantstion system applying 1 inch of wa- serving value of buffalograss will and the soil is often the best way to de-ter to an average size lawn* which be defeated if it is in the same termine whether watering is needed.has already received sufficient rain irrigation area as trees needing *Approximately 5,000 square feetwastes more than 3,000 gallons of more water.water — a year’s supply of drinking AVOID RUN-OFF — Youwater for 17 people. want water on the plants, not FOR MORE INFORMATION CHOOSE APPROPRIATE Trees, shrubs and flowers are best served by drip and down the gutter. Careful location These University of Nebraska–LincolnIRRIGATION SYSTEM — soaker hose irrigation systems. of emitters may not be enough Extension NebGuide publications areChoose the appropriate irrigation to minimize run-off. You may available at the extension office or onlinesystem and then install and maintain turf. If you install a sprinkler system, need to reshape land to reduce at http://ianrpubs.unl.eduit properly. the rate and uniformity of the applica- slopes that encourage water to move too • “Watering Nebraska Landscapes, When and How Much” (G1400) Drip and soaker hose irrigation sys- tion must be carefully designed. Plan quickly for soil to absorb it. The slope • “Conserving Water in the Landscape”tems best serve trees, shrubs and flow- emitter patterns to fit water output to should direct water toward the plants (G1061)ers. These systems place water on the the shape, soil infiltration rate and wind that are high water users and away from • “Perennial Flowers for Water-wisesoil surface in the immediate vicinity of characteristics of your site. If you are hard surface areas such as driveways, Gardeners” (G1214)a plants root system, reducing evapora- using a conventional hose and sprinkler, walks and patios. Another way to reduce • “Evaluating Your Landscape Irrigationtion loss and irrigating only the desired remember the location and quality of the run-off is to incorporate compost into System” (G1181)plants. An added bonus of these systems sprinkler head determines how efficient- the soil to improve the infiltration rate • “Checking the Performance of Your Landscape Irrigation System”is the reduction in foliar diseases which ly water is delivered. and water-holding capacity of the soil. (G1221)can accompany sprinklers. ZONE WATERING — Automatic MINIMIZE EVAPORATION Sprinklers are generally used for irrigation systems can be designed to — The best time to water is early morn- Estimated water requirement for Estimated water requirement for WOODY PLANT and ANNUAL/ maintained LAWNS PERENNIAL FLOWER BEDS in eastern Nebraska landscapes* in eastern Nebraska landscapes* Landscape zone Types of plants associated with zone Estimated inches Season Estimated inches per week (based on expected water use) per week April/May .75-1.0 Very low Native and/or adapted plants with high drought-tolerance 0-0.25 and minimal water use that require little or no supplemental June 1.0-1.5 water once established July 1.5-2.0 Low Native and/or adapted plants with moderate drought-tol- 0.25-0.5 August 1.0-1.5 erance and moderate water use that require occasional supplemental water during periods of drought Sept./Oct. .75-1.0 Average Native/adapted or exotic plants with low drought-toler- 0.75-1.5 The low end of the range should be used for low maintenance ance and moderate to high water use that require frequent turf, while the upper end of the range reflects the amount of supplemental water during and beyond drought periods irrigation needed for high maintenance turf. High maintenance turf is defined as a lawn that is mowed at 2.5 inches or less High Mostly exotic plants with little or no drought tolerance that 1.25-2.5 and receives four or more fertilizer applications each year. require consistently high soil moisture*Site factors such as amount of sun/shade, wind protection, type of soil and amount of slope may require adjustments to estimated irrigation amounts. Good Lawn Care Practices Reduce Need for Chemicals A healthy, dense stand of soils high in clay, compacted ture down into the root zone.turf reduces weeds and recovers and poorly drained. Aerating FERTILIZNG — Properquickly from insect or disease and topdressing with organic fertilizing includes supplying Photo by Ward Upham, K-State Research and Extensioninjury. Cultural practices play matter or screened compost adequate nutrients and propera big role in the health of the may improve these conditions. soil pH. In particular, avoidlawn and need for pesticides. Another option is starting over excess or lack of nitrogen, Lawns requiring frequent and amending clay soils with fertilize during cooler weatherpesticide use — in particular compost. Thoroughly preparing (especially early and late fall)herbicides — may have an soils before seeding or sodding and use controlled-releaseunderlying problem causing is critical. nitrogen fertilizers. Don’t applythe repeated invasions of pests, GRASS SELECTION high rates of nitrogen in spring.such as weeds. Correcting the — Make sure the proper grass MOWING — Properproblem leads to a healthier species is used on the site. Full mowing has a major impactlawn that can resist weed inva- sun and sun/shade environ- on lawn health. Many lawnssions and reduce the need for ments call for different grasses. are mowed too short, al-chemical use. Kentucky bluegrass is the pri- lowing weeds to invade and Good lawn care practices mary species for lawns in full other problems to appear. Mow Core aerators can be rented at some garden centers and rental agencies.can also save water and prepare sun; in some cases mixed with between 2- and 3- inches andturf for dry summer months. perennial ryegrass and/or fine mow often enough so no more practice to consider, in particu- will still come up requiring spe-Taller mowing and proper fescues. For shade areas, shade- than one-third of the leaf blade lar for sodded lawns over clay cial management. Start by iden-fertilization result in a deep tolerant Kentucky bluegrass is removed in any one cutting. soils. Spring and fall are good tifying the problem, then lookand efficient root system which cultivars are commonly mixed CORE AERATING times to aerate. Topdressing at control options; both culturalreduces the need for additional with fine fescues. — Manage lawn stress factors, the turf with screened compost and chemical. When usingwater. WATERING — Proper such as thatch, shade and soil after aerating will further help pesticides read, understand and SOIL CONDITION watering includes irrigating as compaction. Core aerating on relieve these stress factors. follow all label directions.— Many lawns are growing on lawns need it and getting mois- a regular basis is an excellent Occasionally, problems
  2. 2. Fall 2005 BE YARD SMART page ii Yard Smart Resources Tips to Reduce Yard Waste City of Lincoln Yard waste can account for 20 percent of the total waste stream. Nebraska regulations prohibit sending grass and leaves to landfills during the growing season, from April 1 to November 30. By reducing or removing this Recycling Office waste source, the Lancaster County landfill life will be extended by 3 to 5 years. Homeowners and grounds Phone: 441-8215 managers can reduce yard waste with these good landscape practices. Web site: — keyword “compost” Recycling Hotline; Information on Managing Yard Waste, backyard composting, and much more; LinGro compost and wood chip Appropriate Landscape Design availability. With appropriate landscape design turf and result in a reduction in waste. available space in order to minimize and plant selection, the landscape waste TURF SELECTION — If turf is pruning needs. UNL Extension in stream can be significantly reduced, in turn reducing the overall waste stream. selected, choose dwarf or other slow growing varieties requiring less water. FOR MORE INFORMATION Lancaster County PLANT SELECTION — An ef- CHOOSE PERENNIALS — The These University of Nebraska–Lincoln Phone: 441-7180 fective way to reduce waste by design use of perennials can give year-round Extension NebGuide publications are is by designing the landscape based on color without the cost and waste of available at the extension office or online Web site: at http://ianrpubs.unl.eduEducational resources on backyard anticipated use (turf vs. shrubbery), and replacing annual plants. • “Growing Annual Flowers” (G721) composting, grasscycling, lawn then purchasing plants requiring less MINIMIZE PRUNING NEEDS • “Turf in the Landscape” (G1418) chemical use, and much more. maintenance and water. — Certain trees and shrubs, most often • “Perennial Flowers for Water-Wise CHOOSE GROUND COVERS those slow growing or drought tolerant, Gardeners” (G1214) — The installation of perennial ground need little or no pruning and produce Lincoln-Lancaster covers can be an attractive alternative to less waste. Choose plants fitting the • “Woody Landscape Plants: Selection and Planting” (G1349) County Health Department Phone: 441-8040 Disposal Lawn Chemicals,Complaints on Backyard Composting Grasscycling Has Multiple Benefits Grasscycling, or grass mulching, is Lincoln Solid the natural practice of leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. It is obvi-Waste Management ous how this practice can save resources Association such as landfill space, but there are ad- ditional benefits as well. The clippings Phone: 475-8376 quickly decompose, returning nutrients Yard Waste Collection to the soil. Grasscycling, in conjunc- tion with the practice of reducing waterNebraska Department and fertilizer inputs, can reduce mowing of Agriculture time in addition to disposal costs. Grasscycling can be practiced on Phone: 471-2394 any healthy lawn as long as respon- Information on certification for sible turf management guidelines are private and commercial pesticide followed. Proper mowing, watering, applicators and fertilizing practices result in more moderate turf growth yet still produce a The Water Center healthy, green lawn. 472-3305 The nitrogen contained in grass Water Conservation clippings removed from a lawn almost growth in spring and early summer. equals the recommended application Grass clippings should be less than rate for healthy turf (about five pounds one inch, or no more than one-third of Grasscycling Saves of nitrogen per year per 1,000 square feet). While some of this nitrogen is lost the total plant height, to ensure rapid decomposition. Mowing more fre- Lawn Care Costs Yard Waste through the decomposition of the clip- pings, leaving the clippings on the lawn quently is not as much extra work as you might think, because lawns mowed • Fertilizer — Grass clippings can supply up to one-third of a lawn’sDisposal Options by grasscycling can have the overall impact of reducing fertilization require- at the proper height cut more easily and quickly. Mowing infrequently damages nitrogen fertilizer needs. • Time — Recent trials confirmed Garden waste, weeds, brush ments by 15–25% or more. Similar sav- the lawn by removing too much of the leaving grass clippings on the lawnand tree trimmings over 1-inch in ings on water use are possible. plant at one time. When mowed regu- saves one-third of the mowing time.diameter can be deposited of in the Returning clippings to the lawn larly, clippings filter down through the • Water use — Clippings shade grassregular trash throughout the year. usually means mowing more than once grass, decompose rapidly and recycle roots, cool the soil, return mois-The following options are available a week during the few weeks of rapid nutrients back into the soil. ture, add moisture holding organicto Lincoln residents for grass and matter, and thereby reduce lawnleaf materials. watering needs. 48TH STREET TRANSFER • Soil health — Clippings decom-STATION — For a fee, residents pose rapidly, feeding soil organ-may dispose of grass and leaves at isms that keep soil healthy and helpthe 48th Street Transfer Station lo- prevent turf diseases.cated approximately 1/2 mile north • Thatch – Studies proves grass clip-of 48th & Superior Streets. Grass pings do not cause thatch build-up.and leaves must be free of garbage, Remove no more than 30% of the leaf with each mowing.litter and tree trimmings over 1-inchin diameter. Grass and leaves must Mulching Tree Leaves into Lawnsbe removed from plastic bags at thetransfer station. Call 441-7738 formore information. HIRING A LAWN CARESERVICE — Include yard waste The changing colors of Fall in- to lie on the turf more than three or particles, the more easily they fall intomanagement in your lawn care evitably land in people’s yards. When four days. When oak leaves are predom- the turf, leaving grass blades exposed topackage. there are many trees on the grounds, inant, it will be necessary to mulch them the sunlight. HIRING A PRIVATE HAUL- leaf clean-up can be a time-consum- into the turf later in the fall because they The pulverized leaves will settleER — Lincoln refuse haulers offer ing chore. Composting leaves requires are held on the trees longer than most into the turf within a day or two, par-a separate weekly pick up of yard a home compost pile or the expense other trees. ticularly if followed by rain. Take carewaste to be taken to a city-operated of collection, bagging and a means of It is important to use a rotary that the pulverized leaves do not covercompost site for a fee. Contact your transport to a compost center. mower that pulverizes the leaves well the grass blades entirely. Fall is a veryhauler for more information. Use Another means of disposal is simply and that the leaves are dry when important time for the turf to photosyn-approved paper lawn bags available mowing the turf/tree leaves with a rota- mowed. Leave the mower set at the thesize and store carbohydrates, particu-from retailers, a cart provided by the ry mower often enough to pulverize the same height as you have been mowing larly under trees where the turf receiveshauler, or a clean, 32-gallon trash leaves so they fall into the turf. Return- the turf. Sharpening the mower blades limited sunlight during the summer.can with a lid. Grass and leaves in ing the leaves to the turf is not harmful and a slow movement with the mower It is suggested to add 1/2 pound ni-plastic bags are NOT allowed at the to the grass if the mulching/mowing is will help to grind the leaves finer. It may trogen per 1,000 square feet in additioncity’s compost site (plastic will not done at appropriate times. be necessary to make as many as three to the normal fall nitrogen fertilizationdecompose in the compost mixture). It is best if the tree leaves are or four passes over the area to grind the to enhance decomposition of the tree “mowed” regularly, not allowing them leaves fine enough. The finer the leaf leaves.
  3. 3. Fall 2005 BE YARD SMART page iii Composting Turns Yard “Waste” Into Useful MaterialCompost is a mixture of partially decomposed plant material and otherorganic wastes. It is used in the garden to amend soil and fertilize plants.Making and using compost recycles yard wastes and reduces the burdenof organic trash on our landfills. Make Your Own Compost Almost all organic materials will of the pile is five feet tall by five feetdecompose. Composting hastens this wide and as long as you wish.natural process by creating conditions The compost pile can initially becondusive to decomposition. prepared in layers. This will facilitate decomposition by insuring proper mix- Composting Materials ing. To build a compost pile, start with a Yard wastes, such as leaves, grass four to six inch layer of chopped brushclippings, straw and non-woody plant or other coarse material set on top of thetrimmings can be composted. The soil. This will let air circulate under thepredominant organic waste in most base of the pile.backyard compost piles is leaves. Grass Next, add a three to four inch layerclippings can be composted; however, of low carbon organic material such aswith proper lawn management, clip- grass clippings. This material should bepings do not need to be removed from damp when added to the pile. On top of On the left, mixed organic material just beginning to decompose.the lawn (see article on opposite page). this, add a four to six inch layer of highIf clippings are used for compost, it is carbon organic material (leaves or gar- On the right, finished compost.advisable to mix them with other yard den waste) which should also be damp.wastes. On top of this, add a one-inch layer contain the compost pile in some sort frequent maintenance and preparation Branches, logs and twigs greater of garden soil or finished compost. This of structure. Composting structures can of the wastes to be composted. Com-than 1/4 inch in diameter should be layer will introduce the microorgan- be made from a variety of materials. posting in these units is most efficientlyput through a shredder/chipper or cut isms needed to break down the organic Yard wastes can be composted either in done in batches. Materials should beup prior to placement in the compost matter. simple holding units, where they will sit stockpiled until there is enough to fillpile. Kitchen wastes such as vegetable Mix the layers of high carbon or- undisturbed for slow decomposition, or the bin. These bins should be monitoredscraps, coffee grounds and eggshells ganic matter, low carbon organic matter, in turning bins which speeds up decom- and turned after temperatures havemay also be added. and soil before adding another layer to position. peaked (90°–140° F) and begun to fall. Certain organic materials should the pile. This will ensure a speedy and HOLDING UNITS — Holding This occurs four to seven days after pilenot be used to make compost because even composting of the organic matter. units are simple containers used to store construction. Turn a second time whenthey may pose a health hazard or create Repeat the “layering” process until the garden waste in an organized way until the temperature peaks again, four to sev-a nuisance. Do not add pet feces since composting bin is filled. these materials break down. It only en days later. Compost processed thisthey may transmit disease. Meat, bones, Microorganisms can only use requires placing wastes into a pile or bin way will be ready in six to eight weeks.grease, whole eggs and dairy products organic molecules dissolved in water. as they are generated. Decompositionshould not be added because they can A moisture content of 40–60 percent can take from six months to two years. Locationattract rodents. Large amounts of weeds provides adequate water without limit- Since yard and garden wastes will be The compost pile should be locatedwith seeds or diseased plants may create ing aeration. The “squeeze” test is an added continuously, the stage of decom- close to where it will be used and yetproblems. easy way to gauge the moisture content position will vary from the top to the not offend neighbors. The pile will do of composting materials. The material bottom of each compost pile. Generally, best where it is protected from drying Building the should feel damp to the touch, with just the more finished compost will be found winds. Compost Pile a drop or two of liquid being released near the bottom of a pile and partially A compost pile should be large when the material is tightly squeezed in decomposed materials near the top. FOR MORE INFORMATIONenough to hold heat and small enough the hand. TURNING UNITS — Turning University of Nebraska–Lincoln Exten-to admit air to its center. As a rule of units are typically a series of bins usedthumb, the minimum dimensions of a Making a for building and turning active compost sion NebGuide “Garden Compost” (G810) publication is available at the ex-pile should be three feet by three feet by Compost Bin piles. A turning unit allows wastes to tension office or online at http://ianrpubs.three feet (one cubic yard) to hold heat. To save space, hasten decomposi- be conveniently mixed for aeration on a maximum to allow air to the center tion and keep the yard looking neat, regular basis. Turning systems require The City’s Composting Operation Avoid Clopyralid The City ofLincoln maintains a and brush by the city for 12 years, has Products in Compost16-acre yard waste added almost 3½ City officials urge residents to check to see ifcompost facility years to the life of the herbicides used on their lawn contain clopy-next to the Bluff the sanitary landfill. ralid. If it does, the City would like residents toRoad Sanitary If the program was mulch their grass clippings rather than compostlandfill (at Highway discontinued and them. Alternative products are available that will77 and Bluff Road). the yard waste was kill undesirable weeds and not affect compost.This site receives buried in the landfill, Clopyralid has been discovered in compostabout 20,000 tons it would close in operations in several states, including at The Cityof grass, leaves and 2022 instead of the of Lincoln’s composting facility. Testing of thebrush each year. current projection City of Lincoln’s LinGro samples has found levelsThis is equivalent date of 2026. of clopyralid as high as 87 (ppb). Levels of clopy-to about 2,000 Partial fund- ralid of 10 (ppb) or less can damage some plants.garbage trucks dur- ing for the city’s It is unlikely that damage will occur to sensi-ing an eight month composting program tive plants if the compost is properly applied andperiod. Lincoln’s 16-acre yard waste compost facility receives about was provided by the mixed thoroughly with the soil (1” of compost Grass is mixed 20,000 tons of grass, leases and brush each year. Nebraska Depart- into 6” of soil). “The clopyralid levels found inwith leaves and ment of Environ- Lincoln’s compost are not known to present healthwood chips to form mental Quality, risks to people or animals,” said Scott Holmes,windrows roughly six feet high Since the program began in Waste Reduction and Recycling Environmental Health Division Manager for theand 12 feet wide. It takes about October 1992, the city has com- Program. Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.12 months to complete the com- posted an estimated 171,300 tons Additional information regarding clopyralid inposting process. The material is of grass and leaves and wood TO GET LINGRO compost can be obtained by contacting Gene Han-screened to remove any debris and chipped 201,865 tons of tree de- COMPOST lon with the City of Lincoln 441-7043 or checkingwood chips and placed in a curing bris. For an average year the com- A list of locations to pick up or pur- the City’s Web site at – key-pile. This finished material is then post facility grinds about 5,000 chase LinGro compost are listed word “compost.”available to the public as LinGro tons of brush and tree debris. on the next page.Compost. The diversion of grass, leaves
  4. 4. Fall 2005 BE YARD SMART page ivUsing Compost and Wood ChipsIn addition, to the multiple benefits to using compost and wood chips, doing so recycles yard wastes and reduces the burden of organic trash on ourlandfills. Adding Compost into Soil Wood Chips as Mulch The chief advantage of compost particles to break down further or sepa- Wood chipis its ability to improve soil structure. rate them out before using compost mulch is made fromGood garden soil is loose and has around growing plants. the chipping of treea high water-holding capacity with Compost can be blended into soil and landscape prun-adequate drainage. Adding compost mixes and is suitable for most outdoor ings. Mulch is mate-to heavy clay soil improves drainage planting projects. It is typically mixed rial placed on theby improving soil structure. Compost with other ingredients such as peat soil surface for thealso absorbs water and improves the moss, shredded bark, sand, or loamy purpose of protect-water-holding capacity of sandy soils. topsoil when used as an outdoor plant- ing the soil and plantTo conserve moisture it is essential to ing mix. Mixing ratios vary; but 10 roots. Not only dohave soil with good water-retention. percent compost is considered to be a organic mulches add In addition to improving soil struc- minimum, 30 percent optimum and 50 a decorative naturalture, decomposing compost will slowly percent maximum in planting shrubs appearance to therelease plant nutrients. Compost will and trees. landscape, they alsonot provide all the nitrogen that highly Compost has its greatest value provide many land-productive crops require. Organic when rototilled directly into the soil. scape benefits.gardeners can supplement compost One cubic yard of compost covers • Helps retain soilapplications with manure to produce 108 square feet at three inches, 216 at moisture. Mulch helps soil retain • Prevents direct contact with soil.good yields without the addition of two inches, and 324 at one inch. The moisture and reduces water evapora- Mulch prevents vegetables fromother fertilizers. rule of thumb is to spread compost no tion caused by wind and hot sun. making soil contact, thus helps to Finished compost is dark brown, more than one-third the depth of the • Reduces soil temperature extremes. reduce rot.crumbly, and is earthy-smelling. Small rototiller. A one-inch layer of compost An application of mulch acts as an • Prevents heavy rain damage.pieces of leaves or other ingredients should be tilled in six inches. Making insulating blanket to help avoid ex- Mulching prevents soil erosion. Itmay be visible. If the compost contains two or more passes with the tiller helps treme temperature fluctuations. permits water to seep slowly beneathmany materials which are not broken blend the compost with the topsoil and • Reduces weed growth. When the site the protective covering.down, it is only partly decomposed. break up any clumps of material. has been properly prepared, mulching • Increases survival of new trees. NotAllow partly decomposed compost reduces weed growth. only do mulches keep the soil cool • Saves time in landscape mainte- and moist, they also keep the lawn nance. Place mulch under and be- mower and weed trimmer from dam- tween plants in tree and shrub beds, aging young bark and killing trees. Locations to Pick up or border plantings, hedges, rose beds • Gives a natural look. A few fallen Purchase LinGro Compost and fruit orchards. By replacing grass with mulch, mowing and watering leaves in a planting bed with a wood chip mulch gives your landscape the • The City of Lincoln has limited quantities of time is cut dramatically. natural beauty of a forest floor. organic compost, called LinGro, available to the public each spring at the N. 48 Street Transfer Station located at 5101 N. 48 Street. This mate- rial must be self-loaded and is available at no cost, on a first-come, first- Free Woods Chips from City of Lincoln serve basis. Information on loading pick-ups can be obtained by contacting the Lincoln Recycling Office, 441-8215. The City of Lincoln has limited quantities of wood chip mulch on a • Delivery of compost within a 50-mile radius of the Bluff Road Landfill is first-come, first-served basis. Contact the Lincoln Recycling Office at available for a fee. Call the Lincoln Recycling Office at 441-8215 for more 441-8215 for more information. information. • Wood chip mulch is available at the N. 48th St. Transfer Station, located • The following area firms have LinGro compost available for a fee: at 5101 N. 48th Street, (any vehicle) and the Bluff Road Landfill, located Campbell’s Nurseries and Garden Centers, General Excavation, Nebraska at Highway 77 and Bluff Road, (pickups and trailers only). There is a Nursery and Color Gardens, Pine Valley Nursery and Landscaping, PreCast charge of $5 per cubic yard. City personnel will load woodchips into open Productions, Inc., Seeds of Life. Landscapers can obtain compost upon pickups or trailers. request. • Individuals may also self-load wood chips at no charge at the Recycling • Information on LinGro Compost is also available through the City’s Web Drop-off Site (1/2 mile north of Superior Street on North 48th Street) site: – keyword “compost.” • Delivery of wood chips within a 50-mile radius of the Bluff Road Landfill is available for a fee. Compost Excellent Tool to Correct Soil Erosion A recent study demonstrated the vigor of the established turf was greater words, only one percent of the rainfall receive moisture, increases water infil-most effective approach to reduce storm in the compost amended plots than those ran off the compost blanket as opposed tration into the soil and prevents the run-water runoff and sediment erosion on with straw mats. The organic material in to 24% for the straw mat. off velocities that carry sediment away.slopes is to use a compost blanket ap- compost amended turf was almost five Compost can also be incorporated After vegetation growth, the compostproximately two-inches thick. times more than it was for straw mat into the soil. However, it is recom- provides both nutrients and additional From April, 2004 through June plots. This healthier turf is able to filter mended a filter berm be established at organic matter to hold moisture in the2005, the City of Lincoln and the storm water and pollutants and hold soil the base of any slope to minimize soil soil.University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) better preventing sediment erosion. erosion prior to grass seed germination. An economic analysis conducted byconducted an erosion study comparing A silt fence can be used if incorporating UNL suggests a compost blanket wouldcompost to traditional approaches of The Results the compost into the soil. To produce cost about five percent more than thestraw blankets and silt fences. This study demonstrated the use the healthiest soil possible, soil tests can traditional approach of using straw mats of compost as an effective approach to be conducted to determine the optimum and silt fences. The cost analysis does About the Study minimize soil erosion and stormwater application of compost. not include additional seeding likely to Six test plots were constructed on run-off. In fact, the study showed ap- be required in subsequent years for non-a slope of 3 to 1. This is a fairly steep plying a two-inch blanket of compost How Compost Blankets compost amended soils.slope that rises about 33 feet in a hori- would reduce soil loss by 99.8% com- Workzontal distance of one hundred feet. The pared to bare soil. When compared to When raindrops hit soil with the For More Informationamount of rainfall during the study was the traditional erosion control practice vegetation removed, they dislodge To obtain more information ontracked as well as the amount of run-off of using a straw mat and silt fence, the and detach soil particles. This is called the use of compost for erosion controlfrom each test plot during the period of compost blanket decreased the amount “splash erosion.” If there is more projects, contact the Lower Platte Souththe study. of sediment running off on the test plot rainfall than the ground can absorb; the Natural Resources District, 476-2729; Each test plot was seeded with a by 81%. Use of the compost blanket resulting run-off carries the detached the City of Lincoln Watershed Manage-fescue-blend grass seed typically used increased water infiltration by up to soil particles away. The compost blanket ment Division, 441-4959 or Solid Wasteby seeding contractors. The health and 99.3% compared to a straw mat. In other buffers the un-vegetated soil to help it Operations, 441-7043. BE YARD SMART – SPECIAL INSERT Published by UNL Extension in Lancaster County • 441-7180 • Funded by City of Lincoln Recycling Office • 441-8215 •