By: John Hazlett, Marion County SWCD District Manager On September 27th, local corporation Cummins partnered with Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) and Indy Parks Land Stewardship for a day of native habitat establishment at Spades and Brookside Parks as part of Indy Do Day. I really enjoyed working with Cummins volunteers, Land Stewardship and ROW staff, as well as Bloomington-based contractor Eco Logic. Together we planted over 900 native plugs in Spades Park near the park shelter and playground areas. The weather was perfect and several yards of leaf compost mulch were utilized to amend the soils for planting a [...]
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Improve Water Quality During Septic Smart Week September 17 - 21 Property owners in Marion County can learn about proper septic system maintenance and why it’s important during SepticSmart Week, Sept. 17-21. SepticSmart Week is a nationwide initiative through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise awareness about the need for proper care and maintenance of septic systems. Many homeowners in Marion County still depend on septic systems to treat wastewater. EPA recommends that septic systems be inspected and pumped out on a regular basis, at least every three to five years, as failure to maintain a septic system [...]
By: Julie Farr, Urban Conservationist Now at the height of summer we are enjoying and spending more time in our yards than any other time of the year. Many of us spend a lot of money trying to keep our yards looking pristine and weed free. Fertilizer and herbicides are often applied up to 6 times during the growing season. Beyond the cost to your wallet and possible health issues for children & pets is the cost of traditional lawn care to the environment. Changing lawn care habits can help improve the condition of our wallets and the environment. Habit [...]
As urban areas grow, homeowners along ditches and streams may find major changes in their yards over time. What was once a small drainageway 20 years ago has deepened and widened into a ditch that flows most of the year. Along streams, you may find that the stream has moved many feet and may now be threatening structures in your yard. What can be done? In most areas of Indianapolis, it is the landowners’ responsibility to maintain drainageways as they cross through their property. Depending on the size of the watershed, this may become a large financial investment. First, realize [...]
By Jerod Chew, Marion County District Conservationist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service “Out of the long list of nature’s gifts to man, none is perhaps so utterly essential to human life as soil.” Hugh Hammond Bennet We just recently celebrated 2018’s Earth Day and Stewardship Week, so what better way to honor these events than to start this post with a quote from the father of the modern Soil Conservation movement, Hugh Hammond Bennet! Bennet started and led the Soil Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and pioneered the concept of local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) [...]
Whether you farm 10,000 acres or a 10 x 10 garden plot in your backyard, you can improve your soil’s health. Soil health is the capacity of a soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. There are four basic principles that improve the health of the soil. These principles will work on any soil, most anywhere and when used together as a system build organic matter and biodiversity in the soil. Keep your soil covered Reduce soil disturbance Keep living roots growing as long as possible Plant a diversity of plants Large farmers, [...]
Spring is here and those who love gardening and those who tend small farms are anxious to get outside and start planting! But to be the best stewards of our water quality and soil while providing optimal growing environments for our crops you may want to first consider evaluating the condition of your soil. Soil tests provide vital information about what is currently available for plant growth in your garden plot. General soil tests provide basic information such as the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and the pH of the soil. Soil tests will tell you which nutrients and [...]
Though the recent snowfall may indicate otherwise, spring weather is right around the corner. For many homeowners in Marion County that means yard work will soon begin. Everyone dreams of the immaculately manicured lawn, but how does your green lawn impact water quality? Fertilizers that are used on lawns, golf courses and in agriculture can have devastating impacts on water quality. What is happening? The most common fertilizers contain nitrogen and phosphorus, which both help plants grow, but the excess fertilizer from your lawn doesn’t always stay in place. When it rains, the runoff enters our waterways and the fertilizer [...]