Fall 2006: Backyard Conservation 3-Petal Letter

The Lower Olentangy Watershed encompasses approximately 150 square miles of land and streams that drain into the lower 32 miles of the Olentangy River in Delaware and Franklin Counties.

Tributaries: Our local streams suffer the most from storm water run off, which decreases water quality; erodes stream banks and channels; diminishes ground water recharge; increases flooding; contributes to sewage overflows; and carries trash and debris.

By following the suggestions contained in this brochure, you can make a difference. Rain barrels, smaller lawns, and native plantings all help reduce storm water run-off. Organic fertilizers and pesticides keep harmful chemicals out of our waterways. We hope that these tips will help you beautify your yard and save time and money while protecting our watershed.

Fall Lawn Care

Corn gluten meal offers a non-toxic alternative to chemical weed control.

Try corn gluten meal
Applying corn gluten meal to the lawn when it first turns cold will help retard broad-leaf weed seeds. Eartheasy has more information.

Use organic fertilizers
Apply organic fertilizers during rapid root growth (September to hard frost). This prevents the nutrients from washing away and polluting the groundwater.

Consider reducing your lawn size
To remove lawn (which has little wildlife value) and create more garden space, cover the area with 6-10 layers of black and white newspaper and wet thoroughly. Cover with 4” to 6” shredded hardwood mulch or soil for 4 to 6 weeks. The newspaper will break down in time for Spring planting of native plants that will provide wildlife habitat and improve water filtration. Look for more details at the National Wildlife Federation.

Fall Gardening Tips

Compost your leaves
Make use of a valuable fall resource by mixing 50% green (grass clippings) and 50% brown (leaves) to make ‘black gold’ fertilizer (compost).

Store your rain barrel
If you are using a rain barrel to collect water for your garden, make sure to drain and store the barrel upside down to prevent damage by freezing.

Remove invasives and plant natives
Fall is the best time to clear out invasive species and plant native perennial plugs, which are best suited to Ohio wildlife. For more info on invasive species - Ohio DNR.

Fall is an excellent time to remove invasive species such as garlic mustard (shown above).

Native Wildlife Habitat

Creating habitat helps native wildlife survive the long winter months.

Leave the leaves
Leaving fallen leaves on your beds creates winter cover for beneficial insects. It also protects and fertilizes your soil.

Leave seed heads
Fall clean-up usually involves cutting back perennial grasses and removing dried flower seed heads. However, leaving them in place provides a key food source for birds and wildlife in the winter months.

Create a brush pile
A small brush pile in an out-of-the-way corner offers cover and protection for birds and small mammals.

Clean and fill birdfeeders
Disinfect birdfeeders with a 10% bleach solution before refilling. For tips on safe bird feeding.

Brought to you by FLOW: Our mission is to increase public awareness of the extensive recreational, cultural, historic, and environmental resources of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, and to promote responsible policies and uses of the river.

Contributing Consultants for this edition: Toni Stahl and Marc Apfelstadt
Photo credits: ODNR website; Marc Apfelstadt; George Anderson