Pamunkey River Crimper Roller No Till Soybeans Shoreline Stabilization Agriculture Awareness Day

Homeowners Doing Their Part for the Chesapeake Bay

The health of Virginia’s waterways begins in your backyard. You can help protect water quality and improve the Chesapeake Bay by using careful lawn fertilization practices and sound lawn management principles.

Lawn Care Tips
A healthy grass stand is more important than you realize. It provides a better ground cover to prevent erosion and more weed control.
Soil Test—Don’t Guess, Test your soil every 3-4 years. Results will indicate the amount of nutrients necessary for a healthy lawn. A soil test will indicate the acidity of your soils. This determines whether or not you need to apply lime. It will also indicate the specific amounts of potassium and phosphorus necessary. Soil tests do not determine nitrogen needs.
Information on soil tests, instructions, testing boxes and fee schedule are available through your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.
Nitrogen should be applied based upon established requirements of grass species, seasons of growth and intended use. Follow directions on the label; improper application may lead to burning of the turf, leaching, or runoff. This in turn can cause nutrient overload in our streams and rivers affecting water quality. Look for fertilizers with high levels of water insoluble nitrogen (WIN). It releases fertilizer slowly and allows your lawn to make better use of it. Remember more is not better. Lawn fertilizer is measured by application rates in pounds per 1,000 square feet. To determine square feet, multiply the length by the width of the area to be fertilized. Never apply more than 1 pound of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at one time.
Leave clippings on the lawn—they reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer as much as one-third. If clippings clump, disperse them.
Fertilize cool season grasses (those that stay green year round) in the fall and warm season grasses (those that turn brown in the winter) in the spring and summer.
Morning watering is preferred. Wet foliage overnight may encourage disease. Avoid watering during the heat of the day, as water will be lost to evaporation. Apply water at a rate of half an inch per hour. Faster application may cause runoff.
Mow at the proper height with a sharp blade: 2 to 3 inches for cool season grasses and 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches for warm season grass.
Turf grass is difficult to grow under certain conditions. Consider using ground covers on steep banks or slopes, in shady areas under trees, and in areas where tree roots grow close to the surface and prevent grass from growing.
Puddles in your backyard? Consider planting a rain garden. Rain gardens are slight depressions planted with hardy perennials that soak up more stormwater than a typical lawn and recharge groundwater.
Sweep fertilizer, soil and lawn clippings off driveway and walkways back onto lawn. Keep gutters and stormwater inlets clear of trash, lawn clippings and leaves.
Dispose of pet waste by bagging and placing in the trash.
Links to Lawn Care Materials & Lawn Fertilization Guides:
1. Spring & Summer Management for Warm-Season Grasses: Click here for guide
2. Maintenance Calendar for Warm-Season Turfgrasses in Virginia: Click here for guide
3. Spring & Summer Management for Cool-Season Grasses: Click here for guide
4. Maintenance Calendar for Cool-Season Turfgrasses in Virginia: Click here for guide
5. Home Lawn Fertilization In Virginia: Click here for guide
6. Soil Testing for the Lawn & Landscaping: Click here for guide
7. Making Compost from Yard Waste: Click here for guide

Rain Barrels

What is a Rain Barrel?

Rain Barrels are containers that hold water from rooftops (via downspouts) so that it doesn’t runoff into storm drains and waterways. They hold about 50 gallons and have a spigot attached so the water can be used for watering flowers and gardens.

Why Do I Need A Rain Barrel?

Water shortage is a growing global concern. Residential irrigation can account for almost 60% of all domestic water consumption. Runoff is also a problem for the environment as it reduces ground saturation. In watershed areas, runoff from homes and developments can become a pollutant to existing water sources. A 50 gallon rain barrel can fill in less than ¼ of an inch of rainfall (depending on the size of your roof and gutter system). Rain barrels can go a long way in offsetting your domestic water needs: including gardening, car washing, and filling children’s swimming pools. In turn the burden on the local water system or your well will diminish and ultimately save you money. Collecting rain water has become as typical as recycling bottles, cans, newspapers, and composting.

Reference Links:
Information & How to Make a Rain Barrel: Click here to follow link


What is Bayscaping?

Bayscaping is the use of a variety of beneficial native plants that, because they are adapted to our local climate and soil, require minimal maintenance (including trimming, watering, fertilizing, or pesticide application). They reduce the amount of pollutants carried by rainwater into local waterways and eventually the Chesapeake Bay because they use less fertilizers and pesticides. Get started by asking your local nursery about which plants are right for you!

Why Bayscaping?

As the population of eastern Virginia continues to grow, the environmental pressures to the fragile ecosystem increase as well. Thousands of homes that neighbor our rivers/creeks/streams potentially contribute nonpoint source pollution via stormwater runoff. While each home may contribute relatively little, the cumulative effect of stormwater runoff loaded with nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, petroleum products, and sediments from upland properties can pose serious threats to the health of our watershed. Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) released from fertilizers have been responsible for algal blooms which block sunlight to valuable seagrasses and deplete dissolved oxygen levels, which are essential to marine life. Toxic chemical compounds, components of landscape pesticides and other household chemicals can concentrate in the aquatic environment and cause problems in reproduction and disruption of the food web. Nonpoint source pollution can be controlled, but requires conscious decisions and actions by individual households.

Reference Links:
More Information on Bayscaping: Click here to follow link
Homeowners Guide to Designing Your Property: Click here to follow link
Bayscapes for wildlife: Click here to follow link

Rain Gardens

What is a Rain Garden?

Like a rain barrel, a rain garden captures runoff from your rooftop before it reaches the storm drain network. A rain garden uses native landscaping to soak up rain water directed from your downspout. The middle part of the garden holds several inches of water, allowing it to slowly infiltrate into the ground instead of being delivered to the storm drain all at once.

Why Install a Rain Garden?

A rain garden allows 30% more water to infiltrate into the ground than a conventional lawn. This helps replenish the groundwater supply (important during a drought), and reduces the amount of pollution that reaches our streams through stormwater runoff. Since studies show that the first inch of rainfall is responsible for the bulk of the pollutants in stormwater, a rain garden is designed to temporarily hold water from a one inch rain storm, and slowly filter out many common pollutants like sediment, oil, grease and nutrients. Rain gardens require less watering and fertilizer than conventional lawns, and can provide habitat for birds and butterflies.

Reference Links:
How to Build a Rain Garden: Click here to follow link
Rain Garden Plants: Click here to follow link

Septic Tank Maintenance


On September 13, 1989, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board adopted regulations to implement the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. The Act requires local governments to amend their land use plans and ordinances to meet state standards for the protection of water quality. One of the general performance criteria require that homeowners pump out their septic systems at least every five years to reduce nutrients to surface and shallow ground water and to decrease possible fecal coliform contributions to surrounding water from septic systems.

Have your tank inspected every five years and have it pumped if needed. While your tank is being inspected ask the operator to examine the inlet and outlet baffles or tees for damage.
Don’t put automotive oil or grease in the septic system. Don’t use as a garbage disposal. Instead, compost garbage or put in the trash.
Keep a can for grease and cooking oil near the stove and dispose of it in the trash.
Keep deep rooted trees and bushes away from the drainage system.
Don’t allow heavy vehicles on the drainage system.
Don’t put pesticides, disinfectants, acids, medicines, paint, paint thinner, or other materials that can pollute ground water or can kill bacteria in the septic system.
The use of enzymes or other miracle septic system additives do not take the place of regular pumping.
Map the location of your septic system and drain fields for future maintenance

Rovers Left Overs

Tips for you & your neighbors to help keep our area waterways free of pet waste pollution.
Stormwater carries pet waste and other pollutants directly into area waterways.
Animal waste adds nitrogen to the water. Excess nitrogen depletes the oxygen in the water that is necessary for underwater life.
Animal waste contains harmful organisms that can be transmitted to other animals and humans.
Roundworms and hookworms deposited by infected animals can live in the soil for long periods of time and can be transmitted to other animals.
No one likes to step in pet waste and spread it into their home, car or business
It's easy! Carry a plastic bag to pick up after your pet. Dispose of used bags in the trash.
Your neighbors will appreciate your good manners.

Recent studies have shown that pet waste is a significant contributor to bacterial contamination in area waterways after a storm. Stormwater carries litter, pet waste and other pollutants directly into area streams, rivers and bays. Stormwater does not receive any treatment prior to discharging into these waterways. Storm drains are designed to carry stormwater only, but ultimately, they carry whatever we leave on the land.

What can you do to help? Check this poster link

Please dispose of pet waste properly. Pet waste belongs in a trash can. When walking your dog, bring something with you to pick up after your pet.

Please be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your pet!

Three Rivers Soil & Water Conservation District • 772 Richmond Beach Road • P.O.Box 815 • Tappahannock • VA • 22560-0815