Lands Green, Waters Clean: In the ‘Hood, Looking Under the Hood

Okay, so you’ve confirmed that your home is in the Muddy Branch watershed, and you’ve visited the Lands Green, Waters Clean Web site and made an appointment for a site visit (also known as a “landscape audit”). It’s time for me to show up. I’m a landscape designer specializing in sustainable landscape consulting and design, and my company is called Gracefully Green, LLC (a Montgomery County Certified Green Business). On my “About Us” page, you can learn more about me. On this visit, I will learn a lot more about you.

This site visit is a really important first step in the process to be considered for a free landscape installation through the Izaak Walton League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” program. We need to know where the opportunities are in your yard for rain gardens, conservation landscaping, and/or canopy trees. I’ll want to know what is happening with water on your property: do you have wet spots? Does water get inside the house? Does the runoff from your roof or driveway go to storm drains in the street? Have you done anything up until now to manage that water, perhaps by installing a rain barrel?

We’ll also look at how much lawn you have. Can we replace some of it with other plants? If we can do that, I’ll measure the area. What other vegetation do you have in your yard? Do you have invasive plants that could be removed and replaced with native plants? Do you have any canopy trees already on your property? If you do, and they are native trees, we want to be especially careful with those. If you don’t, maybe it’s time to have some – if you have the space for them.

I’ll be curious about your soil, too. Is your property new construction with soils that have taken a beating? Do you clean up and remove leaves each fall or do you allow them to decompose where they fall? Do you compost kitchen scraps and use the finished compost on your yard? Do you have compacted soils anywhere? Eroded soils? How about slopes?

Finally, we’ll talk about critters, be they furry or feathered, big or small – whatever you’ve observed in your yard. If you noticed a snake, perhaps there are small rodents around that it is keeping in check. Maybe, like one family, you’ve noticed hawks nesting in a nearby tree. Perhaps a robin is nesting on your downspout, or you’ve heard the call of a fox in the night. How about a black bear? (It does happen!) And maybe, like many of us in this area, you have lots of deer coming through. The wildlife around us tells us something about our own little ecosystems.

At the end of the visit, I’ll collect $30 from you. This will be the only cost you will have. If your property is selected for landscape design and installation, the rest of the work will be covered by the League. Based on this first visit, I’ll get back to you with a report and recommended next steps as well as a map showing the locations of proposed landscape changes. If you are still interested, we will put your name on the list of properties to be considered for installations. Either way, you will have an action plan that can help improve water quality and make your yard more attractive to birds and pollinators.

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