Best Management Practices for Spring and Summer
DuPage County Stormwater Management is encouraging residents to be mindful of water quality this spring. Property owners may consider practicing natural lawn care and implementing green infrastructure projects to reduce pollutants reaching DuPage County waterways. Commonly referred to as nonpoint source pollutants, these contaminants include fertilizer and pesticides, car oils, pet waste and litter. Once mixed in with stormwater runoff, they drain directly to streams and storm sewers off impervious surfaces, such as roadways, sidewalks and roofs. Spring is a time when many property owners begin thinking about lawn care and home improvement projects. If done properly, normal routines and maintenance can actually improve the quality of DuPage County’s waterways by minimizing pollutants in stormwater runoff.
Spring is a time to begin thinking about lawn care and home improvement projects. If done properly, your normal routines and maintenance can actually improve the quality of DuPage County waterways by minimizing pollutants in stormwater runoff. Natural lawn care practices can begin in the spring with an inexpensive soil test to determine what—if any—nutrients your lawn needs. In addition, spring is the time to get in the habit of allowing your grass to grow 3 inches before mowing. This improves its health by allowing roots to grow longer, also helping to remove pollutants from runoff. Spring is also an excellent time to begin thinking about growing gardens, specifically rain gardens with deep-rooted native plants to filter pollutants from stormwater runoff. Rainwater harvesting is also a popular technique to capture and store stormwater for later use, such as lawn irrigation. This can be accomplished with a simple rain barrel or an intricate underground system.
- Use a simple and inexpensive soil test to determine what – if any – nutrients are needed.
- If nutrients are necessary, use natural compost instead of traditional fertilizer. Consider composting lawn clippings, leaves and other natural materials.
- Eliminate pesticide use by hand pulling any weeds.
- Allow grass to grow up to three inches before mowing, which improves its health by allowing roots to grow longer. These longer roots will also help remove pollutants from stormwater runoff.
It’s important to begin a natural lawn care regimen in the spring because your habits will carry into summer. Now that you’ve tested your soil in the spring, you can begin naturally fertilizing as needed. If your soil lacks nutrients, consider using compost instead of a harmful fertilizer. Eliminate pesticide use by hand pulling any weeds. Although you’re not mowing as often, summer is also a great time to begin composting lawn clippings, leaves and other natural materials. In addition, after spring showers, many homeowners may consider repaving their driveways. Permeable pavers and porous concrete are always the best option to clean water and prevent localized flooding. Porous surfaces allow stormwater runoff to permeate through, which keeps the polluted runoff out of storm sewers and streams. If this isn’t an option for you, try to avoid coal tar-based sealants, which can be toxic to surrounding plants, groundwater and humans.
- Install a rain garden with deep-rooted native plants to filter pollutants from stormwater runoff.
- Use a rain barrel or larger rainwater harvesting system to capture rainwater for reuse, such as lawn irrigation.
- Instead of repaving driveways, consider installing permeable pavers or porous concrete that allows stormwater to permeate through instead of running off.