Planning & Zoning
Stormwater Articles
Keep Your Lawn Green and the Water Blue
Using too much fertilizer and other lawn care products can cause water pollution. The same rain that helps turn your lawn green also washes excess fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants into the nearest creek, turning the water green, or worse. Much of it makes its way downstream through our creeks to the Little Miami River. To help prevent pollution, have your soil tested to determine how much fertilizer you really need. And use lawn care products as instructed on the product labels. Less is always more when it comes to water quality.

Fertilizer is a pollutant when it is washed off lawns and gardens into streams, rivers and other bodies of water. Fertilizer consists of plant nutrients that help plants grow and reproduce. In the water these nutrients feed naturally occurring algae and can lead to massive algae blooms, particularly during the warm summer months. An algae bloom is an explosion in the algae population that turns the water green, shutting out sunlight needed by bottom-growing plants and leading to oxygen depletion that kills fish and other aquatic creatures.

This season, try applying no more fertilizer than can actually be used by your lawn and the plants you are tending. Here are some practical tips which will limit the amount of fertilizer available to be washed into storm drains and streams:


  • Have your soil tested. Then apply only the kinds and amounts of nutrients that your grass and plants need. Visit the Greene County OSU Extension Office website, or contact the Extension Office at (937) 372-9971, for additional information on this topic.
  • Once your soil has been tested, follow the instructions that come with commercial fertilizer to make sure you apply no more than is required.
  • Apply fertilizer in the fall when it is most beneficial to cool season grasses and least likely to end up in runoff.
  • Avoid leaving fertilizer on hard surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways where they are most likely to be washed into a storm drain, where it will end up in a stream. Sweep fertilizer off hard surfaces onto the lawn or into the garden.
  • If possible, avoid applying fertilizer just before a rain storm.


Pet Peeves

Here are GOOD reasons to pick up after your pet:


  • Stormwater carries pet waste and other pollutants directly into storm drains and then into creeks and rivers.
  • Animal waste adds nitrogen to the water. Excess nitrogen depletes the water's oxygen, which is necessary for healthy underwater grasses, wildlife and fish.
  • Roundworms and hookworms deposited by infected animals can live in the soil for a long time and be transmitted to other animals and humans.
  • Let's face it - no one likes to step in pet waste and spread it into homes, cars and businesses.
  • Scooping on a daily basis and applying lime will help prevent odors.
  • It's easy to clean up by carrying small plastic bags and paper towels in your pocket. The bags can be secured and thrown away in the garbage.
  • Most of all, your neighbors will appreciate the good manners!


Illicit Discharges – Storm Water

Illicit discharges into the city’s storm sewer system can pose a serious health threat to the natural habitat of our streams and rivers and affect our quality of life. By identifying sources of illicit discharges, potentially harmful storm water runoff can be eliminated. Some examples of illicit discharges could originate from construction sites, trash or litter left on or near roadways, residential overuse of fertilizers and pesticides, heavy rainfall or deliberate dumping. If you observe what you believe to be an illicit discharge, please call the Bellbrook Service Department at (937) 848-8415 or the Bellbrook Zoning Office at (937) 848-8477 immediately.
Using Nature to Go Green

Water conservation is always an important tool in managing your environment, regardless of the abundance of the natural water supplies. Landscaping to minimize watering includes planning, using drought-resistant plant species, improving soils and using mulches to retain moisture in the soil. Plant species such as sedums, potentillas, grasses and herbs or other non-invasive ornamental plants have low water needs and may adapt to drier landscapes.

Another “storm water savvy” technique is to store roof rain water runoff in rain barrels for use in gardens and on lawns. Directing your downspouts away from your home’s foundation and onto lawn or garden areas is another way of turning a potential problem into a benefit. Create a rain garden in a shallow basin on your lot by planting moisture loving plants and then direct your roof or driveway runoff to this area. Water will filter into the ground rather than running off the property to the nearest storm drain. Rain gardens also create new habitats and prevent storm water pollution problems from beginning.

Deer have also become a major problem in suburban areas due to the development of former forests and woodlands and the use of more edible plant species in traditional landscaping. Residents resort to fences, repellents, or bright, flashy objects in an effort to deter deer from destroying their landscape. Most control measures only work for short periods of time until deer become acclimated to the sight or smell of the repellent. However, deer tend to avoid plants with thorny stems or prickly leaves and plants with strong aromas, such as bayberry, boxwood, potentilla, roses and hollies. Planting these types of species can be an aid in “deer-proofing” your garden areas.

Simple changes such as described may help your landscape contribute to the health of our environment and the protection of our water quality.

Courtesy of NEMO

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