This page is currently under construction. Check back soon for helpful information on butterfly gardens and rain gardens.
Buckthorn Removal and Healthy Hedges:
Chicago Region Tree Initiative
Lawnsmart Tips for Residents:
Tips for caring for your lawn in a smart and environmentally responsible way.
Protecting Our Waters, Yard by Yard, Together: Stream and Lake Buffers
Fall and Winter tips from Flint Creek/Spring Creek Watershed Partnership
Leave the Leaves?
Homeowners have choices in how they handle their lawn's leaves. There are also some considerations that support keeping our waters clean:
1. Do not put leaves - or let a landscaper put leaves - in streams, ponds or in streets where there are storm drains. Leaves are a potent source of phosphorus, which can encourage algae growth in waterways. Storm drains lead to ponds, lakes and streams - like Flint Creek - and leaves in the street can increase the levels of phosphorus that run into our waterways during rains. More phosphorus means more algae in the summers.
2. Collect leaves for municipal pick up, or add to your own compost piles (compost runoff should not drain into waterways either!) Generally leaf removal or mulching is recommended for turf grass lawns, but do consider leaving some (whole) leaves around the base of trees (see #4) or in your gardens.
3. Mulch your leaves, and leave them on the lawn instead of using fertilizers. Mulched leaves will benefit your lawn as they decompose. Keeping your lawn cut to a minimum of 3 inches high will slow down rain runoff, help your lawn survive during drought periods, and help discourage weeds. Like in #2, consider leaving whole leaves around trees, shrubs, and in your gardens. See #4 for why.
4. There is a strong environmental case for leaving whole leaves around trees and your gardens untouched in the fall. Why? Most butterflies and moths overwinter in the landscape in different stages - as eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, or adults. These insects use leaf litter for winter cover. (Monarchs and its migrations are part of a very small minority). Shredded leaves do not provide the same cover as whole leaves, and risk destroying eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises and other beneficial insects by mulching. Instead, try choosing to rake or use a leaf vacuum to collect your leaves, creating a leaf pile in a corner of your yard - away from any drainage toward streets, streams or lakes - where the leaves can break down naturally. Compost piles work too.
5. Defer the fall "cleanup" for plant beds until spring. The fallen leaves, branches, stems and seedheads are organic matter and essential forage and cover for butterflies, moths, bees, salamanders, birds and other creatures. It provides habitat for overwintering creatures in the fall. A thick layer of leaves also insulates plant roots through the cold winter months - protecting against frost heaves - and then decomposes to build up living soil that's important to a healthy ecosystem.
Keeping some leaf cover is as important as planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native or support native species, including pollinators. Overwintering cover for insect critters is very important to support birds. Baby birds generally cannot digest seeds. Parents feed them bugs, and especially caterpillars. Studies have shown that it takes around 6,000 caterpillars to bring a clutch of baby birds to maturity. Bottom line: leaving leaves helps our birds!
SMART WINTER SALTING
Best Practices for Snow and Ice! We can keep our sidewalks and driveways safe this winter while protecting our waters with these simple steps:
1. SHOVEL and SNOWBLOW
Clear walkways, driveways and other areas before the snow turns to ice. The more snow you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it will be.
If you use salt, scatter it so that there is space between the grains. Believe it or not, a 12 oz. coffee mug of salt is enough to treat an entire 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares.
When pavement temperatures drop below 15 degrees, salt won't work. Switch to another chemical (see below), or sand for traction.
For more information, check out https://flintcreekspringcreekwatersheds.org/challenges
|HomeOwners! More Salt, More RISK!
Using more salt doesn’t make your sidewalks safer — it harms plants and animals, pollutes our water, damages buildings and corrodes vehicles, roads and bridges. Once you put it down, salt doesn’t go away. Instead, it travels into our lakes and streams, putting our aquatic life at risk and endangering our freshwater resources. Salt also alters the composition of soil, slows plant growth and weakens the concrete, brick and stone that make up your home and garage. Using the right amount of salt maximizes your family’s safety. Using 10 pounds less salt this season will protect over 3,000 gallons of water from being permanently polluted. (from WISaltwise.com)