Fall Lawn Care — Keep it Healthy

Keeping Your Lawn Healthy & Water-Friendly

autumn-red-maple-leavesFall is the best time to fertilize lawns and control weeds. Here are some tips from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District for keeping a healthy fall lawn that looks nice and protects the health of nearby lakes and streams:

Mow – Mow often, leave clippings on the lawn and leave your grass 2.5 to 3 inches high. This strengthens roots and retains moisture for a green, resilient lawn.

Fertilize – Mid-to late October is the best time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizer provides grass with nutrients for spring growth. Use “zero phosphorus” fertilizer (look for a middle number of 0 on the package). Water your lawn for 1 to 2 hours after application.

Control Weeds – September is the best time to treat dandelions, plantain, clover and creeping Charlie. Limited numbers of weeds should be removed by hand or spot-treated with herbicide.

Sweep up – Sweep up and reuse lawn care products that fall on streets, sidewalks and driveways.

Rake – Rake leaves to keep them out of storm drains and nearby water bodies, where they release phosphorus and other unwanted nutrients. Keep them away from driveways, streets and sidewalks.

What to do with leaves – There are a few water-friendly ways you can get rid of leaves:
* Compost – Recycles nutrients
* Mulch – Use leaves as mulch, either whole or shredded
* Mow – If there is less than 2 inches of leaves on your lawn, leave them in place and make several passes over them with a power mower. This provides your lawn valuable nutrients and makes it look like you just raked!
* Bag – Rake and bag your leaves for pick-up by city crews. Minneapolis and other communities compost bagged leaves.

Tips for Water-Friendly Yard Care

How can you take care of your lawn AND protect our waters?
You might be surprised at just how simple it can be.

rain-on-grassIf you’re working on fall clean-up like most residents, there are some things you should know that can help improve the quality of Diamond Lake and other lakes & streams.

Responsible, low-impact turf care is easy, and generally less expensive than using chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that pollute our lakes and streams.  This article, courtesy of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, provides tips & tricks for ensuring that caring for your little patch of green also cares for the water ecosystems.

Get the scoop before you rake!

Melting Snow: Protect the lakes, rivers (and paws!)

Dog getting paws checked at the Twin Cities Loppet nordic ski race. Photo © Michelle F. Johnson 2011

Sidewalk Salt and Water Quality

As snow and ice melt, it washes into our lakes and the river. The salt and sand sprinkled on hard surfaces, such as sidewalks and driveways, goes with this melting flow and pollutes our lakes, creeks and the river. Once the salt is in the water, there is no way to remove it. Salt is an ongoing threat to water quality.

Just how potent is salt?
The chloride found in one teaspoon of road salt is enough to permanently pollute five gallons of water. Chlorides in high concentrations:

  • negatively impact aquatic organisms
  • harm the structure of aquatic environments by reducing diversity and productivity
  • increase bird deaths
  • damage plants, turf grass, and trees
  • injure the paws of dogs who walk on it

How can you help?

Shovel first
The more snow you can remove from the sidewalk or driveway, the less salt you need. Try to Continue reading

Last Chance for Fall Cleanup!

Water & Debris running into storm drainThe forecast says we have a few days left to button things up before you-know-what, but today’s “Arctic Blast” is a sure sign of the inevitable.  And Judging from the the multitude of paper compost bags lining the curbs on my block this morning, nearly everyone in the neighborhood has been out tending to the last minute chores of fall.

What can you do?

While you’re out there, please consider taking a few minutes to remove debris from a storm drain near you. The street sweeping crews are done for the season, but the trees weren’t, so there are a lot of leaves in the street.

Ten minutes clearing out a storm drain (and maybe even the nearby street) will go a long way toward protecting water quality in Diamond Lake and other lakes and streams. All those leaves, trash, and other gunk eventually end up in the lake, overfeeding vegetation and otherwise polluting the water, making it — without getting too technical — ugly & stinky.

To those who have adopted a storm drain — three cheers!  (Hint: Now’s a great time to check in on your little iron child.)  Friends of Diamond Lake would love to know how it’s going. Please feel free to add your comments at the end of this post.

Button up, clean a storm drain.  Your lake will reward you with cleaner water.

Thanks, and stay warm!

PS
You might also want to check out these simple year-round yard care tips for water quality from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Do you have Turtle stories or photos?

Eastern Painted TurtleWe would like to learn more about the turtles who call Diamond Lake home and the interactions you have with them.  Have you helped them across the road?  What kinds of turtles have you seen?  Where do they lay their eggs?  When?  Is this year different than other years?  If you have stories to share, please email them to FoDL using the contact form, and we will share them on the website.

Turtles on the Move!

TurtleCrossingSign432x432Q: Why did the turtle cross the road?
A: To lay eggs, of course!*

The first official turtle crossing was seen this past week on Clinton Avenue!  A snapper needed a bit of help across the street to avoid becoming a casualty. The female turtles that call Diamond Lake home head for higher sandy soil in which to lay their eggs each year in May & June. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings return to the lake via the same routes in August & September.

Both mamas and hatchlings can often be seen crossing the streets around Diamond Lake on the way. Those not seen by motorists can become casualties. Most are painted turtles or snapping turtles.  Let us know if you see other species.

How You can Help

If you live on one of the streets around Diamond Lake — Portland,*** Clinton or 2nd*** Avenues, Diamond Lake Road,*** Diamond Lake Lane, Chester Street, or 58th Street,** you can place a turtle crossing sign in your yard to alert motorists to see that slow moving lump in the road really is a turtle. Friends of Diamond Lake has created yard signs that residents around the lake can post in their yards to help increase awareness of the turtles’ presence on the streets. If you would be willing to put one in your yard, please let us know using the contact form, and we will be sure you get one.  We’d like to spread them around enough so people get the idea.

The signs are free, and quantity is limited (of course, a smal donation is always welcome!)

* Thanks to newsletter editor Leigh Oltmans for the turtle quip
** We have enough volunteers on Roslyn.
*** Especially needed

Snow(!) Postpones Minneapolis Earth Day Cleanup

New snow covering shrubs after Minneapolis April SnowstormWell, it has happened. The most recent April (!) snowstorm caused Saturday’s Earth Day clean-up events in Minneapolis to be postponed. Uncovering trash is, after all, a bit more difficult in 8 inches of wet snow.

Friends of Diamond Lake will post new information as soon as it is available, and you can also monitor the Minneapolis Parks Earth Day Cleanup Page to find out when it will be rescheduled.  Looks like it could be in the sixties next weekend, but we get to enjoy one more wave of snow before that.  Seriously.  Keep those sleds out!

Slow it down, Spread it out, Soak it in

Urban Stormwater Management:
Concepts, Ways to Help, Grant Opportunities…

Resident's Rain Garden near Diamond Lake in MinneapolisFriends of Diamond Lake board members Mary Martini and Stu Goldstein attended a presentation by Leslie Yetka of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District on March 6, 2013. They learned some important concepts that can help all of us to better manage stormwater runoff.

Evolving Philosophy
Stormwater management design philosophy has evolved over the years from get stormwater off the property as quickly as possible to keep the water on the land. Since the 2000’s, green infrastructure concepts have been developed. These impact both our large natural areas and small individual sites that make use of the functions and benefits of natural features, such as soils and plants, to reduce runoff and improve water quality. Today, the philosophy is slow it down, spread it out, soak it in. Continue reading