Choose Your Future, A Series to Save Newfound Lake
Part 3: Keeping Your Water Clean — You and the Newfound Youth Conservation Corps
This is your land and your water. To protect what you love, you have to take action. This third installment of our Choose Your Future series provides practical ways to protect your land and water, using sustainable, effective, and low-impact methods that last.
One important way to protect your clean water is by carefully managing your yard, especially if you live next to a stream or lake. The healthiest approach is a landscape that mimics native and natural surroundings. A buffer of low bushes and shrubs along the shore is an ideal and attractive way to stabilize soil and slow runoff. Meandering paths to the waters’ edge provide visual appeal and avoid becoming direct drains to your waterfront.
Carefully managed lawns provide welcome open space and light, however fertilizer can be clean water’s worst enemy. Plants require small amounts of the nutrient phosphorus (P) for healthy root growth. However, a little bit of P goes a long way, and too much is NOT a good thing for clean water! In fact, New Hampshire’s shoreland protection act prohibits use of phosphorus within 25 feet of the waters’ edge, and only limited use of approved fertilizers further inland from this critical boundary.
Here are a few tips if you are considering adding fertilizer to your lawn.
- First, test your soil – you may not even need additional P.
- Second, leave your grass clippings on the lawn to return the natural P to its source.
- Third, carefully follow all directions for applying P. Times of year, soil moisture, rain events, and soil requirements are all important considerations.
According to our gardening maven (and NLRA Membership Manager) Karen Bemis, having your soil tested is very easy, and now (Spring) is the time of year to have it tested. You’ll have the results in about three weeks.
- Go to this website and print the appropriate soil testing form. Several types of tests are available. A standard test is $17 per sample and identifies the soil’s pH and levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and lead. The results include the optimum range for each mineral and recommendations for conventional and organic fertilizer.
- Next, using a spade, trowel, or auger, take a sample from 6 to 8 spots in each garden or lawn area you want tested. Each sample should be taken from a depth of 6 inches for gardens, 6 to 8 inches for trees and shrubs, and 3 to 4 inches for lawns. Mix these 6 to 8 spots together to create a representative sample of the area.
- Air dry and remove stones and other debris from your sample(s).
- Submit 1 cup of dry soil in a clean zip-lock bag, labeled with a name unique to that sample (e.g. front lawn, vegetable garden), along with your payment.
- Mail or bring samples to: UNH Cooperative Extension, Spaulding Hall, Room G28, 38 Academic Way, Durham, NH 03824.
There is a wealth of information available and accessible to homeowners interested in managing their land to prevent stormwater pollution. Here are some links:
- SOAK NH offers attractive and practical ways to increase infiltration and reduce runoff.
- Landscaping at the Water’s Edge has information about plants, grading, fertilizer use, and application.
- Shoreland Protection Act explains New Hampshire’s rules governing land use within 250 feet of protected waters, including Newfound Lake.
Not sure of how to proceed with your own stormwater pollution prevention project? The Newfound Youth Conservation Corps (NYCC) can help install simple and sustainable landscaping that prevents stormwater runoff, flooding, erosion and water pollution.
The image on the left is taken from a shoreline yard. The image on the right shows a walkway to the boat launch, installed by the NYCC, that will help minimize stormwater runoff.
If you are interested in a free visit to look for ways to improve your yard and protect your clean water, call the NYCC at 603-744-8689 or register for a free assessment.