The soil test result summary by Manjula Nathan in the last issue of MEG illustrate how urban lawn and garden management practices can have a big impact on the potential for pollutants from our landscapes to degrade the quality of Missouri waters. The majority of samples from St. Louis and Kansas City tested very high for phosphorus, confirming that many homeowners routinely apply “complete” fertilizers without realizing that they are creating a pollution hazard. Routine soil testing would alert them to this problem, so they could apply fertilizer that contains no phosphorus.
Routine soil testing is one of many simple, common sense management practices being promoted by an educational program called “Healthy Yards for Clear Streams”, designed to help Missourians minimize the potential for fertilizers, pesticides and eroded soil from their properties to enter Missouri waters. Other environmentally responsible management practices include selecting pest resistant and drought tolerant landscape plants adapted to local conditions and setting the mower deck 3-4 inches high to shade out weeds. Healthy Yards for Clear Streams (HYCS) workshops also provide information on creating rain gardens and proper use of pesticides.
HYCS is modeled after successful programs in Springfield and Columbia called “Show Me Yards and Neighborhoods”. These are joint efforts between University of Missouri Extension and local cooperators including city, county, NRCS, MDC, DNR and other partners interested in storm water education. HYCS was initiated in Jefferson City with grant funding from EPA, administered through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Funding from the North Central Region Integrated Pest Management program allowed development of a curriculum to take HYCS statewide. Regional Extension Specialists from across the state attended a HYCS train-the-trainer workshop in fall of 2008 and several have offered the training in their regions. A minigrant from MDNR is providing seed money to help these local programs get off the ground. Feedback from Show Me Yards and HYCS workshop participants indicates that many use the simple suggestions offered through the programs to reduce the pollution potential of their landscapes and gardens.
If you want to learn more about HYCS and SMYN visit the following websites. http://www.healthyyards.missouri.edu/ and http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/PublicWorks/StormWater/show_me_yards.php
REVISED: August 1, 2012