Monday, March 13, 2017

Be Careful Slinging Products

Products start getting slung around the Lowcountry landscapes this time of year. I want to write a little bit about keeping product out of our storm water drains, marshes, and other bodies of water.    With retention ponds, marshes, rivers, streams, and oceans, we are surrounded by water in the Lowcountry.  It is very important to preserve the valuable resource that brought or keep us all in the Lowcountry.  

Living in the Lowcountry, water is everywhere!  All the water shed ultimately ends up in our waterways and the ocean.  Much of this water shed comes down from the upstate and ends up in our local waters. As more development occurs along our water fronts and just more development in general (roofs, parking lots, roads), there is more runoff water.  We definitely do not want to pollute the resource that we depend upon for water, food, recreation and jobs. 

With a few common sense practices you can greatly reduce the amount of product that goes into our storm water system.

After spreading fertilizer or any control products, be sure to remove (sweep) it from any hard surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, and pool decks.  Do this right after spreading the product before you water it in or it rains.  Do not rinse your spreader or sprayer off on your driveway where the water will then run off into the ditch or into any body of water. 

When filling up your spreader, clean up any spilled material right away.  Sweep it up and put it back into the spreader so it can be applied evenly throughout the lawn.

With all of the natural water and now all the retention ponds (in neighborhoods and commercial sites), many more people have to deal with water quality issues either at home or at work.  Many spreaders shoot product out 10-15 feet.  This means you have to be extra careful not to put product directly into the water.  Keep a safe distance away from the water and always read the product label for precautions concerning water.  You should read, understand and follow the entire label.  With certain ant control products there are definite restrictions about how close you can get to water.  Of course you don’t want to be standing in a pile of ants on the riverbank while trying to fish.   This is where using ant bait would be a good alternative.  Most ant baits have far less active ingredient than other ant control products.

If you live on the water, having a low growing natural area before the water can act as a good filter.  If you have turf growing right up to the water, you increase your chances of having run off issues.  If you choose low growing natural areas, you will still have a good view of the water, but will not have the maintenance associated with turf. 

If you have a very sandy yard or a rock hard clay yard, you will want to amend your soil to hold water, nutrients and products.  In the case of a clay soil, regular top dressing with Cotton Burr Compost or SeaHume will help the water penetrate the ground instead of running off into the street.  You will get much better results from the products you use (saving you money and saving the environment) if the product is not running off into the street.  For sandy soil, Cotton Burr Compost and SeaHume will help keep the product in the root zone so the plants can absorb the nutrients instead of leaching into the ground water.  Top dressing is a very easy cultural practice where you just spread the Cotton Burr Compost or SeaHume over the top of your lawn and beds (no tilling required!).

Using high quality, slow release nitrogen products or organic sources of nitrogen will save you money in the long run and nitrates will be less likely to appear in the water system.  Also choose products with a very low to no middle number (phosphorous) unless your soil test dictates otherwise. This will lower the amount of algae bloom in the waterways.  At Possum’s we have been practicing this since we opened in 2002. 

Only fertilize your yard as indicated by your soil test.  This lessens the overuse of product greatly and will save you money in the long run.      

Always ready, understand and follow product labels.