I Used to Mow There … and Now it’s Gone

"See that tree. I used to mow two passes between that tree and the shoreline. Now the tree is in the water." It's a common observation we hear from shoreland landowners. The erosion itself is slow enough that we can't see it immediately. But over time it becomes clear that erosion was happening all along. One measure of land lost is recalling how we used to use an area.

It's striking that the most common measure of erosion is "where we used to mow." Perhaps, it's part of the cause. As a general rule, many grasses have roots as deep as the plant is tall. That means mowed turf has 1-2" deep roots that afford little erosion protection.

As a simple way to slow shoreline erosion, consider an unmowed buffer at the water's edge. It's understood that this may not be feasible in dock, beach, or other active use areas. But in other areas, just let it grow or intentionally plant it with desirable native vegetation. ACD staff can help. Just give us a call.

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Please Water Responsibly

This summer has been very dry. As a result, many cities around the metro have implemented watering bans or restrictions. Watering daily during drought conditions puts further strain on water supplies than the drought is already causing. Watering allowance during restrictions (e.g. odd or even days only) should be thought of as the MAXIMUM you should water, not the minimum. If your grass is green and lush, consider shutting your sprinklers down for a day or two. Selectively water areas of your yard that may be sunnier or drier where the grass browns more readily, but consider skipping areas that stay green longer. In times like these, it becomes even more important that we share our limited water resources responsibly.

Use these additional tips to conserve water this summer:

  1. Use sprinklers efficiently. Align sprinklers to avoid irrigating roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Install a rain sensor on automated irrigation systems.
  2. Water deeply and less frequently rather than daily. The only exception to this is when you start seeds which require moisture for germination. When plants are watered less frequently they grow deeper roots and become healthier plants.
  3. Water in the morning. Watering in the morning prevents water loss from evaporation and also prevents possible fungal problems if plants remain wet in the cooler night.
  4. Mulch your garden beds with wood chips, leaves and unsprayed straw. Mulching around the plants in your garden will help conserve soil moisture.
  5. Add organic matter. Adding a layer of compost to your beds every season will increase the water holding capacity of your soil.
  6. Install a rain barrel. Harvest water from rooftops during rainstorms and use that water to water gardens.
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117 Hits

Why You Should Mulch Mow Your Leaves this Fall

Mulch mowing is the practice of mowing over leaves or grass clippings so that they become fine enough to reach the topsoil below this grass. This is an environmentally-friendly, time-saving alternative to raking and bagging leaves and grass clippings.

Mulch mowing kits work by using special blades that cut clippings into finer pieces than traditional mower blades. By mulch mowing, you're helping to cut down on pollution and waste by keeping the nutrients stored in the leaves and clippings out of local waterways and landfills. In turn, the mulch you produce helps build organic matter in your soil. It's a win-win!

Check out ACD District Manager, Chris Lord, demonstrating mulch mowing with a riding and push mower.

Soil organic matter is one of the most important indicators of a healthy soil. The chemical and physical properties of organic matter (i.e. dead plant material) help soil retain nutrients and water while reducing weed seed germination.

Talk to your local hardware or gardening store about installing a mulch mowing kit on your lawn mower. Kit are available for both riding and push mowers.

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983 Hits

Know Your Shoreline

If you live on water, whether it be a lake, river, creek, or stormwater pond, low water during the summer months can provide a great opportunity for you to conduct a quick inspection of your shoreline condition. The very bottom of your shoreline, where it meets the water, is called the toe and is the most critical part for stability.

Low water often exposes the toe of the slope and allows you to identify areas of concern. For example, you might observe undercutting, where the lowest portion of the bank has been scoured away by flowing water or wave action. When problems are caught early, the solutions are often much simpler and cheaper. Addressing erosion concerns early also helps prevent more severe bank failures down the road.

Another good time to inspect your bank is in the fall once leaves have fallen and before snowfall. You can inspect the upper portions of your bank for problems like rutting from concentrated overland flow over the top of the bank.

If you have any questions about your shoreline or think a site visit may be warranted, please contact ACD staff. We're here to help. 

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443 Hits

Save Money and Water!

Spring is here. If you have an irrigation system for your yard, you likely already have it up and running or are considering doing so within the next month. Now is the time when you're setting the watering duration and frequency for each zone in your yard. These settings often remain unchanged throughout the season, which typically results in over-watering. Over-watering wastes drinkable water, and assuming you don't have a private well, it also wastes money.

This year, in addition to following city restrictions (e.g. odd/even watering schedules), try actively managing your irrigation controller. Active management consists of adjusting run times based on local conditions. For example, during periods with sufficient rainfall, watering duration and frequency can be reduced. During these times, you can simply turn your irrigation system off. In contrast, during periods of extreme heat and drought, supplemental watering may be necessary. Watch your yard for signs of drought before turning on your irrigation system, and rely on rainfall as much as possible. When you need to use your irrigation system, water your lawn one time or less per week with a good soaking to encourage deeper root growth, and schedule watering times in the morning to reduce evaporation associated with midday heat and wind.

An alternative to active management is a smart irrigation controller. Smart irrigation controllers use an internet connection to actively monitor local precipitation patterns and automatically adjust watering frequency and duration accordingly. Regardless of whether you choose active management or a smart irrigation controller, both are effective options for reducing water use and saving money.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension's Lawn Care website for additional lawn management resources.

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565 Hits

Lawns to Legumes in Anoka County

The Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with the cities of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, and Andover, were awarded $40,000 from the Board of Water and Soil Resources to establish a Lawns to Legumes Demonstration Neighborhood in the Mississippi and Rum River Corridor. The project will convert residential lawns into pollinator habitat in support of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other at-risk pollinators. Residents interested in being part of a Demonstration Neighborhood in Anoka County should complete this form: bit.ly/lawns-legumes-anoka

In addition, there are several other ways to get involved:

  • 1.Visit the Board of Water and Soil Resources website to learn more and download free resources: bwsr.state.mn.us/L2L
  • 2.Sign up for a Lawns to Legumes Workshop near you: bluethumb.org/events (Landowner workshop will be scheduled in Anoka County in summer of 2020)
  • 3.All residents may be eligible for individual mini-grant funding up to $350. Apply here: bluethumb.org/lawns-to-legumes

If you have any questions about how the Lawns to Legumes Program will work in Anoka County or how you can be involved, please reach out! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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883 Hits