What Is Your Yard Care Personality Type?
What is your yard care personality type? Are you a Naturalist? A Perfectionist? A Moderate?
No matter your type, there is a way to incorporate watershed-friendly practices into your routine and still maintain a yard that you can be proud of!
Why is it important to use watershed-friendly practices? The fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides that we apply to our properties can run off your lawn with rainwater, flowing to nearby road ditches or drains, then into streams and, eventually, the lake. Landscaping debris, such as leaves and grass clippings, can enter drains and streams if not properly managed. These materials then pollute the lake, and the excess nutrients within the debris can also enhance algae and weed growth.
So how do you keep your yard looking its best while still being mindful of the impacts? There are many ways, and it depends upon you as homeowner and your vision for your property.
The Naturalist’s philosophy is “let it go, let it grow.” The Naturalist’s objective is to mimic the natural landscape, minimize (or even eliminate) lawn area and favor a variety of native trees, grasses, shrubs and flowers. The Naturalist would not consider using chemical fertilizer or weed killers. The Naturalist’s yard is not necessarily messy and unkempt. If the Naturalist lives in suburbia and is sensitive to potential neighborhood objections to a woodsy yard, there are ways to make the yard neat and orderly. Grass areas are mowed to a 3-inch height with a mulching mower. Views are preserved by trimming the vegetation to a shorter height or selecting lower-growing shrubs and trees. Hardscape features, such as gravel or stone paths, rock walls and edging provide an orderly appearance. If you do not enjoy frequent lawn care obligations and regimens, the Naturalist’s approach can be very appealing…and you will have more time to relax and enjoy the summer.
The Perfectionist prefers a well-manicured yard, and either enjoys the work that goes into it or is willing to pay a landscaper to do the work. The Perfectionist cannot relax if a weed invades a lawn or garden or if moles or frost heaves disrupt a flat, level expanse of lawn. If you are a yard care Perfectionist, you can maintain a well-manicured yard that is so important to you while still employing practices that are watershed-friendly and environmentally sound. If you must fertilize your lawn, apply phosphorus-free fertilizer only in the fall. Mow the lawn to a 3-inch height for healthier, drought-resistant turf. Avoid rolling your lawn as the compacted surface allows rainwater to run off the lawn instead of soaking into it. Instead, core aerate your lawn. Grow a buffer of taller grasses, flowers and/or shrubs, etc. between your lawn and an adjoining lake or stream. To maintain the well-manicured aesthetic with the addition of a buffer, consider installing rock edging or low fence to define the buffer’s upland side. Also, remember to instruct your landscaper to employ these practices, too!
The Moderate’s yard aesthetic is a mixture of nature and order. To the Moderate, lawns are more utilitarian — a place for recreation but not a main focus. The Moderate is usually a do-it-yourself type who enjoys yard work, just in moderation! If you are a yard care Moderate, you can employ the more watershed-friendly practices described above: 3-inch mowing height, mulching mower and core aeration. Additionally, consider decreasing the lawn area by either letting corners, edges, patches of the lawn to “go wild” or consider planting these areas with native trees and shrubs. This is especially beneficial along shorelines and streambanks, where trees and shrubs work best to hold the soils in place. Decreasing your lawn area also decreases mowing and weeding, giving you more time to enjoying your yard instead of working in your yard!
So, as spring and summer approach, please give some thought to your yard care personality type, and plan to fit in some watershed-friendly improvements this year.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit chautauquawatershed.org or facebook.com/chautauquawatershed. Funding for CWC’s “Starve the Algae ~ Save the Lake” education and outreach has been provided in part by the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance.