Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Why rake when you can mulch? Keep your leaves on top of the grass and run over them with the lawn mower. They make great fertilizer.
No place to compost? No problem! Drop of your yard waste at the City of Aztec Recycle Center on Ash Street in Aztec. The City of Aztec has two weeks a year where city crews will help dispose of yard waste and San Juan County offers a twice yearly hazardous waste weekend drop off. Watch local newspapers for announcements for event locations and dates.
Cover Those Bare Spots
When it rains, soil and sediment can wash into our lakes and streams. Sediment pollution clouds the water, making it difficult for aquatic plants to grow and can destroy aquatic habitats. Here are four basic steps to grow in your bare spots:
PLANT grass seed, native plants, shrubs, or trees.
MULCH bare soil and seed with grass clippings, shredded bark, pine needles, and leaves. This reduces weeds and keeps soils moist for plants to grow.
WATER new plants regularly during the first couple of weeks to be sure they will thrive. If fertilizers are necessary, use natural compost instead of commercial fertilizers.
SPREAD landscape rock to disperse rain as it falls to keep sediment from washing into the street and waterways.
Spreading it on too thick?
Healthy lawns, trees and shrubs add to the beauty and value of a home. They also keep our lakes and streams clean by allowing rainwater to filter into the soil rather than running into storm sewers. Maintaining healthy lawns and landscapes, however, often requires the use of fertilizers and improper fertilizer use can cause water pollution.
Carelessly applied fertilizer can be a waste of the homeowner's money and may seem insignificant. But on hundreds of lawns, careless applications can add up to a major problem for local streams and lakes. Choosing the best fertilizer program begins with a soil test. Contact your local NMSU Extension Office for an inexpensive soil test that will help you determine which, if any, nutrients your soil needs.
Avoid overwatering your lawn, too. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. Excess water flows off your lawn picking up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and carries them to nearby lakes and streams.
Maintain greenbelts along streets to prevent sediments and excess fertilizers from washing into waterways.
Grass Cutting 101
Cutting grass is essential to the overall health and proper growth of your lawn. If you mow your grass too short the root system weakens. Allowing your grass to grow taller (at least 3 inches) will result in deeper roots and a better lawn. Knowing the type of grass you have is important. Be familiar with the optimal growing height and you will reap the full benefits of a well maintained lawn. When you mow the lawn leave the clippings. Your lawn will benefit from this natural fertilizer. A properly maintained lawn prevents erosion and help keeps runoff clean.
Guard Your Yard!
Along with proper plant selection and care, controlling pests in your lawn or garden is an important part of maintenance. Always read and follow label instructions to avoid contamination of humans, non-target animals and the environment. Using pesticides and herbicides safely will go a long way in preventing contamination of the stormwater runoff that can pollute our water resources. Try these proven safe remedies to protect plants from pests:
Stop aphids by applying soapy water to plants.
Drown slugs in saucers of beer.
Discourage mosquitoes by removing standing water.
Let It Rain!
Collecting rainwater has many benefits including saving water, saving money on your water bill, and reducing flooding and pollution. Place a rain barrel beneath the downspout on your gutters to collect runoff from the roof and prevent stormwater pollution by preventing runoff from your yard. Rainwater is relatively free of dissolved chemicals, such as chlorine, lime or calcium which can be harmful to plants and is softer than tap water. Use rainwater and you will:
Reduce the runoff from your property and help protect water quality.
Help your houseplants and flower beds to thrive.
Save money on your water bill.
2 for 1 Deal
By washing your car or boat on the grass you will...
Have a clean car/boat.
Water your grass.
Fertilize your lawn (grass will use nutrients from the soapy water).
Protect water quality by keeping soapy water out of storm drains and ditches.
Anything that reaches your storm drain is headed right for the nearest waterway.
No lawn? You can still be a hero. Take your car to a car wash where the wastewater is managed before it goes to the Animas River.
Don't Get Hosed!
Driveways, sidewalks and parking areas are sources of water pollution. Oil and fluids leaking from cars is a major source of water pollution and can kill aquatic life when it reaches streams. Remember, most of the water from your driveway and sidewalk flows directly into streams without treatment so break out the broom and give it a sweep. Sweeping saves money on your water bill and dirt and leaves can be swept back onto the yard for composting.
Only Rain Down the Drain
If you pour hazardous wastes into storm drains, such as motor oil or cleaners, chances are they are going directly from your storm drain to nearby waters without being filtered or treated. Two quarts of oil can contaminate enough water to fill four Olympic size swimming pools. Dispose of used motor oil and other fluids at your local hazardous waste disposal site.
Those colorful oil rainbows that form when it rains are a sign that someone's car is leaking fluids. The rainbows may look pretty but they are composed of hazardous pollution such as antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid and transmission fluid. When these materials run off into the storm drains they are harmful to humans, fish and other aquatic life.
If your car is leaking, repair the leaks right away or use a drip pan to catch leaks if repairs are delayed. Taking care of your car protects our waters.
San Juan County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Days are held bi-annually. Watch for announcements in local papers.
Scoop That Poop!
Pets and urban wildlife are major sources of water contamination because pet waste contains harmful bacteria and parasites. Pet waste left on the ground can be carried by rain or irrigation water to streams and rivers contributing to pollution. When it is washed into our creeks and rivers it decays in the water, depleting oxygen levels and releasing ammonia, which can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.
Pet waste left on trails and park grass is unsightly and carried into storm drains and waterways from rain runoff and sprinklers. Be a good neighbor by picking up after your pets and encourage others to do the same. Carry a plastic bag with you to "Scoop the Poop" when you walk with your pet and dispose of it properly.
Save a Fish. Plant a Tree!
Trees are natural managers of stormwater. Trees can help when there is too much rainwater. Heavy rain fall can flow over the land picking up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and wash them directly into storm drains, lakes, or rivers. Trees can help slow rainwater down and allow it to soak into the ground before reaching water bodies.
Trees can increase your property value, too. Make an investment in your home, community, and clean water - plant a tree. Trees can provide: