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News and Resources

Bay Friendly Yards - March 29, 2011

 

Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension will be coving the topic of native plants for the Maryland Coastal Bays CAC speaker series at The Globe in Berlin on Tuesday, March 29 from 5-6 pm.

She will cover plants for both sunny yards as well as plants for shady yards. Rosenkranz is one of the leading authorities in horticulture for our area as she is an Area Specialist for Commercial Horticulture of Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties.

I had the opportunity to speak with her this week to gather information for a press release on this presentation. After I gathered a few facts for my press release, I then decided to ask her a few questions for my own personal use as I am working on creating a more bay friendly yard. But after our conversation, I realized that I needed to pass her bay friendly yard tips on!

My goal is to eventually go grassless as I hate the responsibility of mowing my lawn every week. She explained to me that there are certain practices we can follow with our lawns that can assist in less mowing responsibilities.

Some of our laws in this area call for planted lawns. In these cases, the best planted grass to use is festuca grass as that particular type of grass doesn’t grow fast, only needs three pounds of nitrogen per year. Nitrogen should only be added in the fall when the plants will store that energy and release it as needed in the spring.

If we could just allow our grass to grow to 3 inches, only cut a ½ inch off at a time and leave the clippings on the yard when we mow, the clippings will provide a slow release natural fertilizer which produces one pound of nitrogen, thus reducing your need to fertilize in the fall. Also, never fertilize within 10 feet of any waterway, and don’t waste your time trying to fertilize if it’s going to rain within 24 hours

Lawns take a lot of effort to maintain and offer little to the natural ecosystem. Consider enlarging flower beds, planting native shrubs under large trees, letting fallen leaves serve as compost, and creating a rain garden in wet areas. Smaller lawns need less water, mowing, fertilizing and toxic chemicals.

One of the best exercises for us to do is get our soil tested. Down here on the shore we tend to have highly acidic soil that weeds thrive in. Limestone can reduce the acid which then controls weeds without using pesticide. Hmmm…seems to be a theme growing here, less waste and saving money with a bay friendly yard!

And work towards less of a lawn by planting native plants. Native plants are adapted to this region and require much less water, fertilizer and pesticides to stay healthy. By using native plants you will also see native species of butterflies, song birds and insects that control pests. Interestingly, the more diverse your landscape, the fewer pests you have.  Plants with pollen (a protein source) and nectar (a sugar source) also attract native species that you may never see.

Join us March 29 and learn more about native plants and bay friendly yards. In the meantime go to Maryland’s native plant website  http://www.mdflora.org/ to learn more.

-- Sandi Smith is the marketing and development coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program

 

 



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