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Vegetative Cover
Broward County > Know The Flow > Vegetative Cover

Maintain A Healthy, Vegetative Cover

Fertilizer bag

A yard with healthy vegetative cover can help reduce pollution. Ground covers like turf grass, if managed properly, are very effective in filtering pollutants from standing water. They also help reduce storm water runoff and the erosion of sediments.

However, some people keep their grass lush and green through poor maintenance practices and that can lead to some serious environmental problems. Excessive use or misapplication of fertilizers can cause serious detriment to surface waters and ground water supplies. Excess fertilizer not used used by plants can end up in storm water and landscape runoff. These nutrients contribute to the growth of aquatic plants that choke drainage canals, which can lead to flooding, and displace more desirable plant life.

Grass HeightMow your lawn with the highest setting on the mower to promote a healthy, dense root system. The grass on the left is the proper height.

Limit your use of fertilizers and remember that when you apply fertilizer, you should never immediately water your yard, unless required by package instructions. You should also use a complete slow release fertilizer and one that is low in phosphorus (the middle number of the fertilizer analysis should be 2 or less).

Responsible fertilization of turf grass will produce a dense root system that can reduce leaching and runoff, and make the lawn more drought tolerant. That means that during water shortages, when irrigation schedules are restricted, your lawn will continue to thrive and fare better than one that has become dependent on frequent irrigation and fertilizer application. A dense root system also filters storm water and can break down a variety of organic pollutants.

Grass off sidewalk Mowing your lawn with the highest setting on the mower is one other way to encourage the growth of a dense root system. As an added benefit, the longer blades of grass will also shade the roots and help keep moisture in.

Another strategy for reducing the pollution of our waterways is through grass clipping management. The next time you mow, instead of blowing the clippings down the street, spread them on your yard to return nutrients to the soil. Nutrients trapped in organic matter, like grass clippings, and leaves can be released as pollutants when organic debris enters canals, and lakes. Clippings and leaves can also clog storm drains and culverts and contribute to flooding.

photo We all love the feeling of freshly mowed grass below our feet. But it's not practical or necessary for every part of your property. Areas like walkways, driveways and patios can be welcoming and environmentally friendly. Instead of the traditional non - porous concrete or asphalt, use bricks, gravel, turf block, mulch, pervious concrete or other porous materials whenever possible. These materials allow rainwater to seep into the ground, help filter pollutants and reduce the amount of runoff from your yard.

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