Handed in September, 2011, the Scarborough Pest Administration Coverage ensures that every one those that use Scarborough parks, playgrounds and sports activities fields have vastly diminished publicity to pesticides (learn extra within the 2019 PMAC Report at www.scarboroughmaine.org). Households, pets, wildlife and waterways will all profit as increasingly owners observe the city’s instance to decide to studying about and transitioning to natural garden care.

If you’re enthusiastic about a garden that’s wholesome and protected for individuals, pets, and pollinators, listed here are a couple of simple issues you are able to do this spring to get began.

· Start with a soil check: The one strategy to know what your soil wants is to do a soil check. It’ll inform you the degrees of pH, vitamins and natural matter in your garden and what so as to add to your soil to develop a wholesome garden. A soil check will be achieved any time, however doing it in mid to late spring will guarantee you realize what your garden wants firstly of the rising season.

Free soil check kits can be found on the Scarborough City Clerk’s Workplace, College of Maine Cooperative Extension Workplace (5 Clearwater Dr., No. 104, Falmouth), and on-line at www.umaine.edu/soiltestinglab/residence/kit-request. Testing prices $18.

Take the garden mower’s bagger off (safely) and depart grass clippings: They return essential natural matter and vitamins to the soil. Dan King picture

· Over-seed: Use endophyte-enhanced perennial rye grass to seed skinny or naked spots. It has the most effective probability of germinating earlier than weeds emerge and can assist resist pests and illness. Sometimes, shady grass seed mixes can have the suitable varieties of grass for our space.

· Weed: Pull younger weeds by hand whereas roots are quick and soil is moist. Additionally, be taught to learn your weeds. They’ll inform you a large number concerning the mineral content material, drainage and hardness of your soil. To be taught extra, go to https://www.cumberlandswcd.org/documents-1/yardscaping and click on on weeds.

· Sharpen garden mower blades: Take your mower to your native ironmongery store or garden heart to sharpen blades. Sharp blades give a cleaner reduce and assist forestall illnesses.

· Mow Sensible: Reduce little and infrequently. Mow not less than weekly in the course of the rising season and take away simply the highest one-third of the grass blades. Reduce garden right down to 2 inches in early spring to stimulate development, then regulate mower to the best setting, ideally 3 to 4 inches, for the rest of the rising season. Taller grass creates deep roots that resist drought, shades out weeds, and removes and shops carbon from the ambiance.

· Go away grass clippings: They return essential natural matter and vitamins to the soil. Mulched grass clippings can reduce the fertilizer wants on your younger garden by 25-40 %. For mature lawns (10-plus years), clippings present all of the fertilizer they want.

· Garden Options: Contemplate decreasing the scale of your garden by planting low-maintenance native timber, shrubs and flower gardens. For a listing of native shrubs, timber, floor covers and perennials, go to https://www.cumberlandswcd.org/documents-1/yardscaping and click on on Native Crops. There’s additionally a lot of useful data on-line. Search these web site: Wild Seed Undertaking, College of Maine Cooperative Extension (Crops for the Maine Panorama), and Audubon Native Plant Database.

What? No fertilizer or weed or bug killers (weed and feed)?

Phosphorus-free, slow-release, natural fertilizer needs to be added provided that referred to as for in soil check outcomes, and utilized in early fall (not spring) when the plant will use it to strengthen its roots. Chemical fertilizers, together with weed and feed, will be dangerous to essential critters within the soil and pose well being dangers for kids, pets, and wildlife. And since many comprise nitrogen, they’ll additionally pollute marshes, bays, and streams, hurt aquatic animals, and set off algae blooms.

* Data for this text was drawn from the next sources: Cumberland County Soil and Water District, Buddies of Casco Bay, College of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Natural Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation, and Northeast Natural Farmers Affiliation. Go to their respective web sites for extra detailed data.

Rita Breton is a member of the Scarborough Conservation Fee. Jami Fitch is sustainability coordinator for Scarborough.

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