One of the wonderful things about living in a suburban home is the vibrant green lawns that we take such good care of in the spring and summer months. Having a manicured lawn may be the dream idea of every homeowner or resident, but at what cost? Grass clippings contribute to yard runoff into stormwater systems. Nutrients like nitrates (from decaying grass) can make their way into the community’s stormwater by allowing grass clippings to blow into the street or sidewalk, where they can make their way into stormwater drains located throughout the neighborhood.
Bare soil, or a lawn that is cut too short can also be harmful to water quality as well as making the lawn more expensive to maintain. Keeping good grass height is important to prevent soil erosion, which contributes to harmful nutrients in the soil making their way into stormwater drains. Soil erosion can be caused by lawns with weak root systems. The following graphic illustrates the best grass heights based on their root systems. The lower the grass height the less developed the root system, and the more likely soil erosion will occur.
Grass Clipping Management
City officials around the country are beginning to become concerned about how grass clippings affect stormwater systems, and are starting to charge fees or even fines in some cases. The following video clip is how the city of Tulsa is dealing with the issue of grass clippings in their stormwater system.
Yard Waste Management in Northwest Arkansas
Reducing stormwater pollution cannot be achieved by just a few individuals, it will take a community working together to make a difference. With each homeowner or resident doing their part, stormwater pollution can be reduced and maybe even eliminated completely. What can you do to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution from mowing your lawn?
- Sweep or blow grass clippings off paved surfaces and onto lawns.
- Use a mulching mower to keep grass clippings on the lawn.
- Use a blower attachment that will chop grass clippings into mulch.
Article written by Michael Wharton and Angela Danovi