When to fertilize? How much to water? What should I plant and where? These are all questions yard owners grapple with on an annual basis, often making choices that are unnecessary, costly and sometimes even harmful to the environment.
The City of Springfield and James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) hope to answer these question and more with Yard Ethic, a free certification program to encourage and reward environmentally friendly yard care .
“Each yard is a part of the greater ecosystem,” says Tiffany Frey, executive director of JRBP. “Having a healthy management approach to your yard strengthens the health of our environment as a whole.”
The program encourages residents, businesses and commercial landscapers to implement practices that save money, beautify yards, conserve water, reduce stormwater pollution and create habitat.
“The Yard Ethic program centers around proper practices and connecting our community to a collection of resources and available assistance opportunities,” says Water Quality Compliance Officer Carrie Lamb. “Implementing these practices can be beneficial not just to the resident, but to the entire community.”
Residents can join the Yard Ethic community by visiting YardEthic.com and completing three to five practices to become certified Silver or Gold through the program. Once certified, residents can show off their commitment to the environment and spread the word about the program in their neighborhood by displaying a free Yard Ethic plaque.
Checklist items include such practices as testing the soil in your yard, planting native plants, installing a rain garden, planting a tree, composting organic waste or installing a rain barrel. Various rebates and assistance opportunities are available to help make many of these practices easier and more cost effective.
“For now we’re offering certification for residential yards within Springfield city limits only, but the program may be expanded in the future to include commercial properties and residents in outlying areas,” explains Lamb. “We’re also looking at ways to engage landscape professionals through trainings and other educational opportunities.”
To learn more about yard maintenance resources offered through Yard Ethic and apply for certification, visit YardEthic.com.