Lawn Management for protecting water quality

One otln-image1f 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.

Grass Length

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.

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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?

  1. Sweep or blow grass clippings off paved surfaces and onto lawns.
  2. Use a mulching mower to keep grass clippings on the lawn.
  3. Use a blower attachment that will chop grass clippings into mulch.

Benton County residents can find options for yard waste disposal here

Madison and Washington County residents can find options for yard waste disposal here


Article written by Michael Wharton and Angela Danovi

2 thoughts on “Lawn Management for protecting water quality

  1. Angela Danovi

    Thanks for the question. I will follow up with a response on what happens to composted yard waste. We work in partnership with the Solid Waste Districts and promote people using the solid waste districts as an environmentally responsible resource for disposing of household hazardous waste, bulky waste, and yard waste. They do maintain contracts for proper disposal of all of their waste. The answer will likely be different depending on the district. But, I will find out.

    Angela Danovi

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