Be a ‘best manager’ for your lawn and landscape

Allen D. Owings, Young, John, Gill, Daniel J.  |  10/30/2009 6:11:00 PM

Sustainable Landscape News From LaHouse Distributed 10/30/09

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists
Dan Gill, Allen Owings and John Young

Well-managed lawns and landscaping are good for the environment as well as being attractive. Bad management, however, can negate a lot of the environmental benefits.

To be a "best manager" for your lawn and landscape, follow these rules:

1. Choose the proper fertilizer for your plants and for the time of year you are applying the nutrient. Unnecessary or excess nutrients are wasted and may cause undesirable growth. Where might that excess fertilizer go? It can become pollution. The answer causes us much concern.

2. Read and follow the formulator’s recommendations for proper use. Buy only things you either know how to use properly or that have complete directions for use.

3. Know how to use your application equipment properly, and calibrate it for accurate and even application. This includes proper cleanup. Most materials and excess spray should be cleaned up over land to allow biofiltration. That means to wash and clean over turf, not on the driveway. If appropriate, put sprays back into their original containers. Some herbicide residues first may require neutralization with diluted household ammonia or bleach.

4. Blow or sweep granular materials and grass clippings back into the lawn. As with cleaning equipment, residues are better there than in gutters or drains where they can pollute the water.

5. Keep street and roof gutters clear of leaves. Nutrients in the leaves will leach out, only to follow the water’s path to your local bayou or lake.

6. Choose the lowest-impact pest control material that will do the job, and use it correctly. First, identify the pest and find what controls it. Then choose the least-toxic material that will control that pest. Using too little or an ineffective material, however, is just putting a chemical into the environment for nothing. You can enhance your environment with the proper use of appropriate pesticides. More is not always better and sometimes is lethal. Your local LSU AgCenter agent can help you with your choices.

7. Keep a good ground cover, develop a thick turf or mulch the landscape well. If the ground is bare, it can wash away as muddy water in which suspended soil particles easily can carry phosphorous, other nutrients or pesticides into your local bayous or lakes.

8. Watch your pets, livestock and waterfowl. A single goose can release nearly 2 pounds of phosphorous each year. Avoid feeding or attracting flocks of waterfowl, and properly dispose of or have a special compost pile for animal waste.

By being a "best manager," you’ll restrict the unwanted spread of environmentally stressing materials.

Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. Go online to Louisiana Yards and Neighborhoods for additional information.

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Editor: Mark Claesgens

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