GOVERNMENT LEADING BY EXAMPLE: THE HEALTHY GROUNDS ALTERNATIVE
Converting Maryland’s State House Grounds and Baltimore City’s Canton’ Waterfront Park to organic pesticide-free land care is a cutting-edge project with a team approach. That’s why Maryland Pesticide Network is partnering with the Maryland Departments of General Services and Natural Resources, as well as the City of Baltimore — and local lawn care and East Coast businesses. The goal of these two initiatives is to provide healthy, attractive environments for visitors and to demonstrate how organic practices improve the health and appearance of lawn and landscape plants while protecting the public’s health, wildlife and the Bay.
The State and Baltimore City are “Leading by Example”. Read about these two groundbreaking projects and how you too can create a healthy pesticide-free, organic yard and garden.
Maryland’s State House Grounds — an Organic Model for All 50 States
Building Healthy Soil — the Key
All around this magnificent building, work is progressing on the State House lawn to enhance soil health which provides for healthy grass and plants — the key to the transition — and develop the grounds as attractive, healthy and organic. The second and third phases of a shift to organic care are taking place in 2014-2015. This project is an organic model that can be replicated by us — Maryland’s residents — and at grounds surrounding state and municipal buildings in Maryland, as well as throughout the Chesapeake region and the nation.
This remarkable initiative is highlighted in a 2014 press release on the State’s website. It provides detailed steps for Marylanders on transitioning your yards and gardens to organic land care.
Baltimore’s Canton Waterfront Park — a Quiet Place by the Waterside
Making a Park Safe for Families, Children & Pets
On a typical day, this City of Baltimore park is a place where local families and tourists alike picnic , bringing children and dogs to walk, run and play, making it a logical pilot project for reducing pesticide exposure and runoff into the Bay.
The work to transition Canton Waterfront Park to organic lawn care is part of Baltimore City’s Sustainability Plan for reducing pesticide use. As with the State House grounds, the second and third phases of this demonstration project are being completed during 2014-2015, to provide a safe, healthy and attractive park for visitors and to educate City residents about pesticide hazards and safer yard and garden care.
The following are steps you can take for a healthy garden alternative- its easier than you think!
Protect Our Babies,
the Bees & the Bay
Make Your Yard or Garden
Step 1: Test Your Soil to find out what it needs to be healthy. Buy a testing kit at home and garden stores or from your local Cooperative Extension office.
Step 2: Feed the Soil: A soil test will tell you what supplements your soil needs and if it is too acidic or alkaline. Feeding your soil the supplements needed along with a natural, organic fertilizer improves grass and plant growth. If your soil is too alkaline (over a 6.8 pH), apply elemental sulfur. If your soil is too acidic (under 6.8 pH), you can add lime or bone meal. Supplements are sold at home and garden stores and online.
Step 3: Overseeding — is just what it sounds like. Spread seed over existing grass, in order to fill in bare patches.. Weeds stand less of a chance when competing with thick, healthy grass. Aerate the soil first to ensure seed to soil contact. Aerators can be rented at home and garden stores.
Step 4: Fertilize & Compost — Maryland lawn fertilizer law requires homeowners to comply with fertilizer application restrictions, to protect our waterways (click here for details). Apply fertilizer once a year in the fall. Homemade organic fertilizer (from leaves, grass clippings and food scraps) or purchased compost (plant-based) is a great way to provide your garden with nutrients.
Step 5: Practice smart mowing: Taller grasses prevent weeds and reduce runoff. Mow with sharp blades set to 3 inches. Leave grass clippings on lawn to return nitrogen and organic matter to the soil.
We appreciate the donated products and services for the State House project from the following businesses:
Bee Safe Organics, Auburn, NH
Blades of Green, Harwood, MD
Garden Gate Landscaping, Silver Spring, MD
Jonathan Green Seeds, Howell, NJ
KW Landscaping, Severn, MD
Maryland Pesticide Network, Baltimore, MD
NaturaLawn of America,-Anne Arundel Office, MD
Natural Technologies, Auburn, NH
Osborne Organics, Marblehead, MA
PJC Ecological, Rowley, MA
My Organic Lawn, Montgomery County, MD