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Friday, December 19, 2014
Landscaping to save money and preserve our waterways

Did you know that your beautiful green lawn can be harmful to the environment?

Regular landscaping needs fertilizer, which contains nitrogen and phosphorous. Many people also use pesticides on their landscapes. When we water our lawns or when it rains, the run-off goes into the storm drains and carries these harmful chemicals with it. These chemicals end up in our channels, canals, bays and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus cause algae blooms which make waterways impassable. When the algae die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean. While the algae are decomposing, the water loses oxygen. This is called a “dead zone”, a place at the bottom of the ocean with almost no oxygen, too little for anything to survive. If a dead zone is created, fish will move to a better habitat while immobile creatures such as clams and other crustaceans will die.

Most South Shore Long Islanders have lawns and many use these harmful fertilizers and insecticides on their lawns. We took a survey in Oceanside Schools #3 and #5. We surveyed approximately 1000 students. We found out that 91% of their families have regular grass seeded lawns with non drought plant landscaping. We knew we had to research a way to help save our waterways from dead zones.

That’s when we learned about xeriscaping. Xeriscaping uses drought tolerant plants and trees, along with materials such as gravel, rocks and mulch, instead of grass. Thus no harmful fertilizers are necessary. You may be saying to yourself “Well, we’ll just buy organic fertilizer instead; we don’t need to xeriscape.” This brings us to the other contribution to our environment that xeriscaping offers.

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