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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Top 10 Gardening Pet Peves

I love gardening.  But sometimes I see things in gardens that annoy me.  How about you?

Here is a list of my top 10 gardening pet peeves:

10. Planting the same things over and over.
          Stella d'Oro daylilly, hosta, red twig dogwood, yew - rinse & repeat. Yaaaaaawn!

WRONG! (Pic from
9. Lolly  pop trees. That is, planting trees too deeply and then trimming the branches into perfect circles so that they look like lolly pops.
      Planting a tree too deeply is actually unhealthy for the tree. When the roots are too deep they do not get enough oxygen for proper growth, or can rot. They can also start to grow upward and girdle the tree. This results in the tree being "strangled" and not getting enough nutrients.   When planting you should see some root flare at the base of the tree.  Also why does a tree need to be a perfect circle?

CORRECT! (pic from
8. Red mulch. 
          This mulch is not only tacky, it is treated with chemicals.  Why? Why would you do that to your yard!?

7. Spraying everything with chemicals.
          Most gardening problems can be solved without the use of chemicals. Over-use of any chemical causes pollution, may cause human illness and needlessly kills insects, birds and fish.  

6. Indiscriminate weed hate.
           Some weeds are good and even useful!  Why would you weed up dandelions and then go out and buy dandelion greens or "spring green mix" at the grocery store?  Why pull out that Queen Anne's Lace if it looks good where it is and is attracting aphid-killing lady-bugs to your yard?  Think before you pull.

5. Destroying insects without knowing what they are. 
          Not all insects are evil!  Some are very helpful.  Bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, flies and many others are pollinators.  Juvenile lady bugs look like some kind of terrible bug before they mature into the cute little button-like creatures as adults.  But these ugly babies eat vegetable-
destroying aphids. Even some of the more annoying insects feed the local birds and other creatures. So please, do not murder bugs unless they are truly causing a problem.

4.  Laying down black plastic "weed barrier" under mulch.
        I know that the yard companies tell you that this is a good idea, but it is NOT. Think about it.  You lay down the weed barrier, then cover it in mulch.  A year later, the mulch has decomposed into dirt.  Now weeds are growing on top of the weed barrier. Sometimes, these weeds grow down through the weed barrier, which actually makes the weed more difficult to pull, and causes a real problem if you try to use a hoe to get it out of there.  In the mean time, you have to rip through the plastic to plant anything - which is a pain! You have put plastic into the environment for no reason at all.  Weed barrier has uses as soil warmer - used temporarily on top of the soil to help make the soil warmer for vegetable planting.  But installing it under the mulch makes no sense at all!

3.  Planting a tree that will become tall under a power line.
         Yes, the power pole is ugly and I understand why you want to disguise it.  But why would you plant a pine tree under it when you know that in less than 5 years it will be 20 feet tall, tangles in the power line, and might even get knocked over during a storm onto the power line - a fire hazard.  Please read the maximum growth size of any tree before you plant it.  Consider planting something shorter under a power line, like a dwarf tree or a bush.

2.  Ridiculous laws and neighborhood association rules about what you can grow or use on your
        I am in favor of laws that protect the public health.  However, when they start banning rain barrels, banning vegetables int he front yard, banning basketball hoops in the driveway, or telling you exactly what types of bushes or trees you must plant, they've gone too far. I would never live in a neighborhood with freakishly controlling rules about what I can do with MY property.  This is a free country!

1.  Fake flowers & plastic yard art "gardens."
        If your yard contains more plastic than plant
Why? Just, why?
material, you have a Walmart shopping addiction and I am revoking your "gardener" card. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

PIMP MY SOIL!!! - MI Lake Home Garden Edition

The information for this article comes from the MSU Master Gardener Volunteer Class.

Often, when people have difficulty growing plants, they forget to consider their soil.  They will say, “Well, I gave it plenty of water!  There’s plenty of sun!  I dumped some fertilizer on it!  I don’t see any insects!  I don’t know what’s wrong...”

This person may seem to have been on the right track when they said that they “Dumped some fertilizer on it.”  But did they add the right amount or type of fertilizer?  What about the soil texture?  Is the soil loose enough for the roots to grow?  Is there enough living matter in the soil? Is the soil pH right for the plant?

To have a healthy garden, the composition of the soil needs to be right for the plants in the garden. So... LET’S PIMP YOUR SOIL! 

Soil Texture:

The ideal composition of soil should be: 45% mineral, 5% organic, 25% water and 25% air. 

There are 3 basic types of soil: sand, silt and clay.  Sand has the largest particle size and clay the smallest.  Sand drains well and dries out quickly.  Clay clings to moisture and can become thick and difficult to dig through. 
Sandy, gravely Michigan soil  can be seen between the rows on this Romeo Farm.

You might think that you can improve either type of soil by simply mixing sand and clay together. DO NOT DO THIS!  You will end up with cement!  Instead, add organic matter.  You may have to do this every year until you build up a nice layer of topsoil.  Organic matter is most readily available in the form of compost, leaf mold, peat or animal manure.  Combine the organic matter with the soil by hoeing it in.  You can also use a tiller, but be careful not to over-till.  When you till, leave clumps. Do not create an even powdery soil, or the soil will either wash away or compact back into cement.  Also welcome earthworms to your garden.  These invertebrates will carry organic matter down into the native soil for you.

A healthy soil with enough organic matter will be dark in color – almost black.  It will hold together if you squeeze it tight, but will crumble again if you gently tap it or push at it with your finger.

Organic matter also encourages living things to make a home in your soil.  These include bacteria, fungi, mycorrhizae, lichens, protozoa, invertebrates, and vertebrates. May of these organisms help to keep the soil fertilized, help to break down organic matter and some even have symbiotic relationships with the plants in the garden.  Remember, healthy soil is living soil!

You can buy organic matter at your local nursery or super store.  You can also make it yourself by composting.   Simply keep and contain your food scraps, grass clippings, and leaves in a bin or pile.  If you want to speed the composting process, turn the material over with a shovel or spading fork once in a while.  This material will break down and will be ready to apply to your garden when it looks like crumbly black soil.

For the sake of health safety, do not add meat, pet manure or human manure to the compost pile.  These may contain unhealthy bacteria that can cause sickness when applied to vegetable gardens.  Pet and human manure are not considered useful as compost until they have broken down for at least 10 years.  Most of us cannot wait that long! 

Most soils can be improved enough to grow plants well simply by adding organic material to improve soil structure.  So, always add organic matter to improve the soil first.  If you have tried this, and your plants are still struggling, please read on. 
Dark soil under this rose is high in organic matter.

Fertilizer and Plant Food:

Sometimes people think that fertilizing is the only way to improve soil, and the more the better!  NOT TRUE!

You cannot just dump fertilizer on a plant and expect it to grow.  Different plants require different amounts of nutrients.  Also, the soil contains most of the nutrients that a plant needs.  It is possible that your soil is lacking in a particular nutrient, but do you know which one?

To find out, get a soil test!  You can send soil to your local extension office.  They will return a report to you that states exactly which nutrients your soil contains, and will recommend an amount and type of fertilizer for you.  If you live in Michigan, you can send for a soil test here:

There are 17 mineral nutrients that plants typically require.  These are: Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Nitrogen (N), Sulfur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Carbon (C), Boron (B), Magnesium (M), Chlorine (Cl), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), and Cobalt (Co).

When you get a bag of fertilizer, you will typically see 3 numbers listed on the front of the bag.  These represent the 3 most commonly required plant nutrients: N-P-K  (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium).  When you get your soil test results, the report will tell you what levels of these nutrients your soil requires and how much to apply per square foot. Please follow the directions EXACTLY! Adding more is not better.  When you add too much fertilizer, it can just wash away into the water systems.  This results in algae blooms that kill off fish and generally pollute the water system. It also costs more to buy more fertilizer than you need, and is of no benefit to the plants.  In addition, over-use of fertilizer can build up chemical salts within the soil and ultimately poison future plants.  So, just as you would when taking medicine for yourself, use the correct prescribed dose!

Remember the old saying, “Enough is enough, and too much is poison!”

Soil pH:

pH is a way to measure how acidic or alkaline (base) your soil is. If you recall from high school biology or chemistry class, 0 is the most acidic on the scale and 14 is the most alkaline/base.  Acids are generally sour in taste (lemon juice, vinegar), alkaline/bases are generally bitter in taste (baking soda). Acids and bases create chemical reactions together that result an a neutral substance and gasses (bubbles).  (Remember building that volcano in elementary school buy mixing vinegar and baking soda together?  No?)

battery acid            vinegar                 water                          ammonia                        Lye
0                                     <----Acid         7        Alkaline/Base ---->

You can test the pH of your soil buy purchasing a soil pH test at any garden center.  Please follow the directions on the package exactly.

Most plants grow best at a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.   However, there are a few others that require different levels of pH.  For example, azaleas and blueberries require acidic soil with a pH around 5.0, whereas alfalfa thrives at a neutral to alkaline pH around 6.5 to 7.5.  It is important to research your plants and to know what pH level they need to survive.

Some of the topsoil in Michigan is acidic, primarily in areas where the soil has not been disturbed much.  In suburban and urban areas, the soil is primarily alkaline because it has been churned up by construction.  Construction companies often remove the acidic top soil and pull the alkaline bedrock lime to the surface.

It is best to test the pH before choosing plants.  While the pH can be adjusted somewhat within a small area such as a raised garden bed or a pot, it is nearly impossible to change the pH of an entire field for the extended period of time needed to grow a plant.

So, if you live in an area where the soil is acidic, do not try to farm alfalfa or asparagus!  If you live in an area where the soil is alkaline, do not take up blueberry or cranberry farming!  Find the right site for your growing needs.

To adjust the soil pH in a small area (for example a pot), you can put additives into the soil. 
  • To make soil more alkaline you can add: lime, calcium oxide, calcium hydroxide, marl, slags, or wood ashes. 
  • To make soil more acidic you can add sulfur.

When adding either of these products, first test the soil pH.  Then, follow the instructions on the product bag exactly.  Again, more is not better.

Also, you do not need to lime your lawn if your soil is already alkaline.  This will make your grass less healthy rather than more healthy.  Add only what your soil requires! 

I hope that you find this information useful.  Now, get out there and PIMP YOUR SOIL!!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Top 10 Gardening "Fails"

Gardening is fun but challenging.  New gardeners are often intimidated.  They fear making errors or killing plants.  Well, I’m here to tell you, every gardener makes mistakes.  It is ok to make mistakes!  Mistakes are how we learn and improve.

In addition to human error, sometimes disaster strikes in the garden.  Wind knocks over trees, ice kills off your favorite perennial, insects eat... well, everything...

New gardeners, you are not alone! To prove it, here is a list of my top ten garden “fails”:

10.   I planted cucumber seeds behind tomato seedlings in the vegetable garden.  The result: the tomatoes grew faster than the cucumbers and shaded them out.  No cucumbers that year!  Plenty of tomatoes though.

9.    I often pour too much water into my potted indoor plants.  This results in a minor flood and a mess to clean up.  The worst part of this is that I’ve done it over, and over.

(My aloe and Douglas Adams' potted petunias share similar thoughts.)
8.    When I was a child my mother told me to do something for her in the garden.  To this day, I don’t know what she actually said.  But what I heard was “prune the bushes.”  I went around and dutifully pruned her small evergreen bushes.  She was so mad when she caught me! Fortunately, none of them died. But many were lopsided from then on.

7.    I saw these beautiful broad-leaved evergreen bushes at the nursery with white bell-shaped flowers.  They were called Pieris Japonica.  I purchased them and planted them in front of my house.  They did well all summer, but died through the winter.  The next summer, I tried it again. I added peat to the soil this time.  When winter came, I sprayed the leaves with this waxy spray to help prevent the leaves from drying out.  They died again anyway.  Their label said they were hardy to zone 5.  Somehow, I don’t believe that.

6.    I read somewhere that a baking soda solution could help treat black spot on leaves (/cough/ Jerry Baker’s book /cough/) .  My mock-orange bush had developed some spots, so I decided to try treating it with the baking soda solution.  BIG MISTAKE!  The leaves immediately turned brown and all fell off! Thankfully, mock oranges are tough, so the leaves grew back.  But imagine if I had done that to a rose bush! 

5.    I had a lemon verbena plant in the garden.  In the fall I potted it up in an attempt to over-winter it indoors.  It made it alive through December.  But then disaster struck in the form of aphids!  Within a matter of days the plant was sickly looking and the leaves fell off. I tried to spray it down with water, to remove the aphids.  But it still died.

4.    At my current house, my apple tree got run over by my neighbor as they came down the icy hill in the front of the yard.  For more detail see my previous blog entry:

Fat & happy Malawian locusts.
3.   At my former house, I had a liberty apple. It was planted towards the side of the yard, and nowhere near a power pole.  Even so, DTE came out to work on the electric line and somehow managed to run over my poor apple tree!   I am starting to fear that my apple trees are doomed.  Even so, I’m going to try planting one more at my current home.  Because I love apples!

2.    When I lived in Malawi I had a garden in my back yard.  When dry season arrived, the land surrounding my home was mostly brown and dry, while my small garden was damp and green from watering.  The local grasshoppers found it irresistible.  While I was out one day, they arrived en masse and devoured most of the plants down to numbs within a matter of hours! Seeing my predicament, the local children helped me to pick the grasshoppers off of the plants.  Some of the children took them home to roast and eat.  How to handle a locust plague in Africa: Eat them before they eat you!

1.   One fall I headed out to do some yard clean up.  I saw that many of the perennials had turned brown and scraggly, so I worked at cutting them down.  I didn’t realize that the local bees were still pollinating some of the asters. When I went to cut them down, I was immediately stung in the thumb.  When I turned to run away, the bees chased me.  They stung me once in each butt cheek!  That’ll teach me to go cutting down a bee’s favorite food source!

Forget "Angry Birds"! I have angry bees!

I hope that this post gave you a bit of a laugh and also convinced you to never give up gardening!

If you have a moment, please consider visiting one of the links to the charitable organizations to the right of this post.  Some of the sites ask for a donation.  Some only ask you to help by clicking a link.  It only takes a click to make the world a better place!

Spring is coming soon!   

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Critter of the Month: Gray Squirrel – Adorable or Pest? You Be the Judge

"Come on up and learn about us, humans!"
Larry, Moe & Curly
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is also called Sciurus carolinensis.  They are EVERYWHERE in my neighborhood.

 My home is located in their perfect habitat: an area with many mature oak and pine trees along with neighborhood gardens and bird feeders full of seed.  In addition, there are few if any predators. The coyotes do not enter our neighborhood, and for some reason I haven’t seen many birds of prey overhead. Their other potential predators simply don’t live in this area... so the squirrels are taking over!

Squirrels are very fun to watch, and very clever.  They seem to be able to figure out how to get birdseed out of a feeder no matter how many “squirrel proof” gizmos you buy.  They scamper and jump among the branches of trees with amazing ease.  They chase each other and chatter. 

On the other hand, they can make a mess in the garden.  They gnaw at perennials, eat the fruit off trees, and eat spring bulbs.  They drive dogs crazy.  Sometimes, they even nest in the roof!  They are some of the cutest pests you will ever see!

So let’s learn more about them!  Here is some information:

Typical Gray Squirrel Coloring.
Gray squirrels are rodents.  That is to say, they are furry mammals with sharp incisors for gnawing.  They have sleek bodies and fluffy tails.  Both sexes look basically the same, with no difference in
color or body size.   They are typically dark to pale gray in color with some cinnamon tones to their coat.  1 in 10,000 may be black, and even more rarely they may be albino.  In my neighborhood, we have all 3 colors!  They weight between 11.91 – 26.43oz (338-750g), and range from 14.96 -- 20.67inches (380.0-525.0mm) in length.

1 in 10,000 American Squirrels Has Black Fur
Average Lifespan:
12.5 years in the wild and around 20 in captivity.

Geographic Distribution: 
In the eastern United States from a bit west of the Missisissipi, east to the Atlantic coast and north into Canada.  They may also be found in Scotland, Ireland, England and Italy.

Gray squirrels live in mature forests with mixture of tree types and good food supply.  They make their nests out of piles of leaves and twigs in trees.  The nests can be seen in the branches of these trees at a distance of  30-45 feet above ground.
The Rare Albino Squirrel Lives in Our Neighborhood!

 What They Eat: 
Gray Squirrels are omnivores. They eat the nuts, flowers and buds of 24 species of oak.  They also eat the nuts, seeds and fruit from hickory, pecan, walnut, beech, elm, buckeye, horse chestnut, hackberry, mulberry, maple, dogwood, hawthorn, black gum, cherry, hazelnut, hornbeam, ginko, cedar, hemlock, pine, and spruce.  In addition they eat insects, bones, bird eggs, nestlings, fungus and frogs.  They become pests to gardeners when they eat garden plants such as bulbs, fruit, flowers, herbaceous plants, corn, and wheat. They also sharpen their teeth on branches and bark.
"Nom, nom, nom, nom!"

They are known to hoard food by burying it in holes for later. They locate their stores later via memory and smell.  

Gray squirrels are territorial.  They guard the areas near their nest and where they find food.
They are most active 2 hours after sunrise and a few hours before sunset.
They communicate by vocalization (chattering), tail flicking and smell. 

Squirrels reach sexual maturity by 15 months of age.  They breed twice a year between December -- February and again between May --June.  Gestation lasts 44 weeks and the litters contain 2 to 8 pups each.  The babies are born naked and weigh 13-18g.  They nursed by their mothers and drink milk like most mammals.  They are generally weaned by 10 weeks age, and reach adult size by 9 months age.  

"Home at last!"
Humans, weasels, red foxes, bobcats, grey wolves, minks, lynx, coyotes, owls, falcons, and hawks all hunt and eat squirrels.  

Squirrels are food for predators, spread seeds & fungal spores to new locations, and host parasites (ticks, fleas, lice, roundworms). 

There are several products sold to help deter squirrels. These include coyote urine, motion-sensor sprinklers, electric devices that emit an annoying high-frequency sound, and fake owls.  These function with varying degrees of success.   You can also set live traps to catch and release squirrels elsewhere.  Please do NOT poison squirrels.  If you try this, you will almost certainly end up poisoning other animals by mistake – possibly even your own pets or even children!

Advice for Gardeners:
  • If you want to protect your bulbs: first build a cage of chicken wire around the bulbs, then bury the entire cage into the ground during planting time.  This will keep animals from digging up the bulbs and eating them.
  •  If you want to protect your vegetable garden:  When constructing a raised garden, build the “box” or sides of the garden out of wood, stone, tires or other materials.  Then, lay chicken wire down against the ground and a couple of inches up the side of the “box”.  Place the topsoil
    A comfortable branch.
    on top of the wire.  This will keep animals from digging into the garden from below.  You can also place chicken wire above the topsoil to keep animals from digging downward.  Next, build a fence around the garden. Place streamers or spinners around the fence to deter the squirrels, or use one of the repellant devices mentioned above. 
  • If you have a plant or plants that are very tempting to squirrels, you may want to consider building a chicken-wire fence with a roof over it (like a wire box) to protect the plants. 
  • Allow your dog and cat to roam the yard and do what they do best.
I hope that this information is useful to you, dear reader!
Now, go outside, and watch some squirrels frolic!  Go!  You know you want to!
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Whatever you do, NEVER stop observing and learning from nature. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Is Your Tree Healthy?

The Following Are Fun Facts Learned From the MSU Master Gardener's Class!
Many people believe that if their bushes and trees have plenty of leaves on them, that they are healthy.  While green leaves on any plant are always a good sign, it is possible to miss more subtle signs of slowed growth in a woody plant.  So how do you tell if your plant is growing each summer?  How much has it grown?

The answer can be discovered by closely examining a tree branch and "reading" it.  In order to do this, first you need to know the parts of the branch:

 The "terminal bud"  is the tip of the branch or stem.  It is the point from which the growth for the coming year will take place. In other words, the plant will either grow longer or branch off from this point.

The "node" is a point at which a leaf or stem can grow.

The "internode" is the distance between two nodes or points of growth.

The "lateral buds" are points on the side of the stem, usually in the leaf axil or point of attachment where either leaves,
             shoots or flowers will develop later.

The "terminal scar" is the point where the terminal bud was sometime in the past.  If the tree is more than a couple of years old, you should see multiple terminal scars.  Each represents the the place where the terminal but was at the beginning of a new growing year.

It follows, then, that the space between the terminal bud and the first terminal scar is the amount that the tree grew last year.

The distance between the first terminal scar and the second terminal scar is the amount that the tree grew the year before last, and so on.

By looking at the distances between the terminal scars, you can physically measure the growth of the branch each year!

A wider distance between terminal scars represents more growth.  This meant that the tree was "happy" that year.  It was getting enough water, sun, and nutrients to grow a great deal.

A shorter distance between terminal scars would represent less growth. That means that the tree was lacking something that it needed to grow that year.  Perhaps there was a drought.  Perhaps it was overcast most of the year.
 For Example: In the picture above, last year (summer 2014) was a good year for growth.  There are about 7 inches between the terminal bud and the first terminal scar. The distance between the first terminal scar and second terminal scar represents the growth from 2013.  That year, the tree only grew about 3 inches.  In 2014, the tree grew about 4 inches; a bit more than in 2013. As a whole, this plant is showing a good amount of growth each year, and is healthy.

If a tree is very old, and the distances between terminal scars are consistently short, and/or there are no terminal scars, and little branching, that means something more serious is wrong.  But what could it be?
Take a look at the following:
  • Try taking a branch and leaves to an expert at a garden center.  This way, you can find out if your plant has a disease.  
  • Check the base of the tree.  Has a creature been eating away at the bark? If so, you may have to deter or set a trap for the guilty muncher.
  • Location, location, location.  Is your wet-loving tree planted on a dry hilltop? Is your dry-loving tree planted in a wet low point in your yard?  Is your smaller tree over-shadowed by a larger tree?  You may need to move your plant, or trim back plants in the immediate area. 
  •  Is your soil good?  How you can tell: get a soil test!  You can do this by mailing a sample to your local extension office.   If you live in Michigan, you can find more information about this here: (If you live elsewhere, simply Google "soil test extension 'name of your state.'")  Once your soil has been tested, the information that is mailed back to you will make recommendations about what types of fertilizer to use in order to supplement the soil around the tree.  CAUTION: Remember to always read the instructions and the fertilizer and to use only the amount recommended.  Too much fertilizer is a poison and pollutant to the environment! Also, please consider using organic fertilizers and manures first.
I hope that you found this article helpful! 

If so, please consider following us by clicking on the social media links to the right, linking our blog to yours, or bookmarking this page.

Also consider donating to one of the organizations linked to on the right of this page, and/or shopping at Amazon. 

Whatever you do: NEVER STOP LEARNING!  :) 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Urgent Dog Report: Michigan Snowstorm 2015 - Aftermath

We interrupt this otherwise semi-serious gardening blog to bring you MICHIGAN SNOWSTORM 2015!!!!!
A local news story from our on-scene reporter: Snickers the dog!

 Total snowfall for the area was 14 inches overnight!

Many Michiganders will choose to stay home today.  Most of the area schools are closed for a "snow day."

Those who venture out will find the commute tricky from the get -go.

Those without 4-wheel drive, and who lack the ability to bound over the snow may find themselves...

... stuck in a ditch waiting for help.  Wait time may be hours as the EMS and police have so many trapped motorists to assist.

But if you drive slow enough, you may make it past the enormous drifts...

And finally arrive home safely!  

We now return to your regularly scheduled blog.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

20 Tips For Protecting Our Water

As many of you know, I am taking the Master Gardener Volunteer Class through the MSU Extension.  As I go through the classes I will share some of the top tips that I learn from the class and link to some of the resources that I learned about.

20 Tips For Protecting Our Water:
  1. Reduce the amount of water you use whenever possible. 
  2. Check plumbing for leaks.
  3. Upgrade appliances to water saving devices (toilets, showers, faucets, clothes & dishwashers.)
  4. Install plants that do not require a lot of watering.
  5. Water the lawn & garden in the early morning.  This ensures that most of the water will reach the plants rather than evaporating into the air. 
  6. Use a rain sensor with irrigation systems so that you do not water when it is not necessary. Also set your sprinklers so that you are watering the plants rather than the side of the house or the driveway. 
  7. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses.  These are 20-40% more efficient than sprinklers
  8. Use mulch to help keep the soil moist.
  9. Do not mow your lawn lower than 3 inches.  This helps to keep the ground below the grass moist.
  10. Plant a rain garden to prevent sediment runoff/erosion, and to help the water soak into the

  11. Harvest your rain water with a water barrel. You can then use this to water your garden! 
  12. When paving, use materials that allow the water to drain through them, rather than causing run-off.
  13. NEVER empty fertilizers, chemicals, trash, animal/pet manure or other waste into a waterway.
  14. Always test your soil before using fertilizers. 
  15. Only use the amount of fertilizer you need. More is not better! Fertilizers can run off into the water ways causing pollution and killing wildlife. Try to use compost instead of fertilizer whenever possible. 
  16. Do not apply fertilizer at the edge of a waterway. Leave a buffer zone between the fertilized areas and the water. 
  17. Avoid use of pesticides.  If you must use a pesticide, use it EXACTLY as directed, and do not apply it near a water way.
  18. Do not mow to the edge of water. Create a no-mow zone around the water to encourage native plants and stabilize the shoreline.  This helps prevent sediment and runoff.
  19. Always plug abandoned wells to prevent pollution from entering groundwater.
  20. If you have a septic tank: have it inspected and pumped out every 3-5 years, do not use additives or chemicals in the septic system, do not drive or park on the septic drain field, only plant shallow rooted plants over the septic tank and field.  These practices will keep the system from leaking and polluting the land and water.
Interesting Facts:
  •  97.5% of the world's water is salt while around 2.5% is fresh.
  • 0.0000375% of the planet's water is readily available and safe to drink 
  • Michigan's great lakes contain 20% of the world's fresh water supply and make up the largest freshwater system on the planet. 
  • Sources of water pollution include: sediment/eroded soil (the largest source), factories, oil spills, waste water treatment plants, farms, storm water discharge pipes, storm water runoff, fertilizer, pesticides, human and animal waste, fuel, oil, road salt, trash and other litter.
  • Each day, Michigan residents discharge 264 million gallons of waste water into either the public sewers or septic systems.
  • Each year, 9.4 billion gallons of waste water runs, untreated through failed treatment systems.
 Helpful Links:  
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