University of Maryland Extension

Five Ways to Ring in Spring with Cleaner Water

Krisztian Varsa

Spring is a time of rejuvenation, getting your hands dirty in the soil, and performing routine maintenance around the exterior of your home. Here are five great ways to spruce up your home while helping clean the water heading to your local stream.

1. Plant Native Plants 
Native plants are beautiful, drought resistant, and low maintenance. Springtime is a great time to swing by your local nursery and explore the many types of native plants available. Native plants are good for clean water because their roots are deep, they require minimal watering, and they thrive in Maryland’s weather. In fact, Maryland’s State Flower, the Black-eyed Susan, is an excellent addition to any garden- and the butterflies love it too!

2. Weed/Mulch
Weeding is important to protect the plants you want to succeed. Additionally, when some weeds die back seasonally, they can leave bare spots, leading to soil erosion. Mulching can help to reduce the growth of weeds and protect the exposed soil from erosion by water. Mulch also helps your garden by trapping moisture to help your plants thrive.

3. Reattach Your Rain Barrel
Finally! You have been waiting for this day all winter- your rain barrel can be reattached when the threat of a hard freeze has passed. Be sure to do maintenance by securing any mesh, checking the spigot and pipes for leaks, and ensuring the overflow is directed away from the house.

4. Mow for Cleaner Water
Keep Grass Clippings in Place/Recycling Debris in place. When cutting your grass, don’t bag the grass and debris- mulch it back into the lawn! This will provide free nutrients to your grass and keep the debris out of the stream.

Mower height should be 3 inches or higher. By keeping the grass blades longer, you will keep out competing weeds and increase soil moisture leading to greener grass. It will look better, too!

5. Grass density/health, replace bare spots
It is important to keep your lawn dense and replace any bare spots to reduce erosion and keep out weeds. Choose a soil mixture with some compost to help your new grass get established and be sure to weed out any invaders in the first year.

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