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.
Next post: Less Lawn, More Life
Last week I introduced you to Lands Green Waters Clean – an Izaak Walton League program to install conservation landscaping, rain gardens, and canopy trees on yards in the Muddy Branch watershed. Today I’ll dig a little deeper and share more details about the first steps in that process so you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.
The first step is to determine whether your home is in the Muddy Branch watershed. (What’s a “watershed”? It’s the area of land that drains into a particular water body.)
This is important, because the Lands Green, Waters Clean program is offering free landscaping to selected homes in the Muddy Branch watershed. You may know the Muddy Branch – it’s a stream that starts in Gaithersburg and flows seven miles southwest into the Potomac River and from there to the Chesapeake Bay. Up around Gaithersburg, the stream quality is poor due to heavy development in that area. Developed areas mean more hard surfaces – roads, parking lots, driveways – and rainwater travels much faster over those, gathering dirt and pollution and ending up, unfortunately, in the Muddy Branch.
So here’s how to check whether you are in the Muddy Branch watershed: go to the Montgomery County Environmental Protection web site. From the menu on the right, click on “Find Your Watershed.” A map of watersheds in the county will load. Below the map, click on “View Larger Map.” Type your address in the bar at the top of the map and wait for your address to be located. You can click on the label that pops up to learn about the watershed. You can also visit the Lands Green Waters Clean web site for a map of the Muddy Branch watershed.
Once you’ve confirmed that you live in the Muddy Branch watershed , visit the Lands Green, Waters Clean web site and click on “Yes, send an expert to my yard!” Fill in the blanks and we’ll confirm your request and set up an appointment to come out to see you. Step one, done!
Next post: In the ‘Hood, Looking under the Hood
What if someone showed up at your door and offered to landscape your yard at very little cost to you? It gets better: not only would the landscaping be beautiful, it would manage water drainage better and attract pollinators and birds.
No, it’s not the Tooth Fairy coming to call – it’s the Izaak Walton League!
The Izaak Walton League (a national conservation group headquartered here in Gaithersburg) is installing conservation landscaping, rain gardens, and canopy trees in Montgomery County yards. The goal is to protect the Muddy Branch – a stream that begins in Gaithersburg and travels seven miles southwest to the Potomac River. By installing rain gardens, conservation landscaping, and canopy trees, more rainwater will be gathered where it falls, less pollution will enter the Muddy Branch, and more yards will attract birds and butterflies.
Here’s how it works: First of all, this offer applies only to residential properties located within the Muddy Branch watershed. (To learn whether you are in that watershed, check the Montgomery County Environmental Protection Web site and click the “Find Your Watershed” link.) In the right place? Then go to the League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” Web site and request a site visit. A landscape consultant will give you custom recommendations for your yard. And once the visit is completed, your property will be considered for the installation program. If selected, homeowners will receive a landscape design and installation at no additional cost to them. The only cost to homeowners is a $30 discounted fee for the first site visit. The League is able to provide the site visits and landscape installation through a generous grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
In return for a new landscape, the League asks participants to maintain the new plants, participate in either the Gaithersburg or Montgomery County Rainscapes Rewards Programs, and help to promote the program to neighbors.
Interested? Throw your hat in the ring and sign up on the Lands Green Waters Clean Web site! And check back here over the next few weeks for more details about the program.
Next post: First Things First