By Kristen Wilde,
LGA Education Director
How did it get to be fall already? It seems like the seasons are moving faster, and summer never seems like it is long enough …
For us in the Lake George watershed, fall means gorgeous views of our mountains as they change from bright greens to oranges, yellows and reds. Fall also means cleaning up the leaves after those orange, yellow and red leaves become airborne, and preparing our yards for winter so they will bloom again in the spring.
You know what fall also means? It means you need to act to protect the Lake’s water quality.
As you are surveying your kingdom this fall, we want you to ask yourself a few things:
- Is my yard stopping stormwater from flowing into the Lake, or into a stream that feeds the Lake? If not, can you create barriers at the lakeshore or streambank that will capture the stormwater and infiltrate it to keep pollution, sediment and nutrients out of the Lake? For ideas, go to the LGA’s website at www.LakeGeorgeAssociation.org and search for “rain gardens”
- Do I actually need fertilizer on my lawn? Or can I cut it higher (2.75 to 3 inches) for the final mows of the season and get away with mulching the clippings? Just that act will allow the grass to grow longer roots, and will also keep the soil from being packed down, better absorbing the rainwater (and the nutrients from the grass clippings). So no erosion, stronger lawns and less mowing. What’s not to like about that?
- Am I protecting the Lake from my yard waste? Yard waste can contribute significant amounts of phosphorus to waterways, adding nutrients for invasive plants and animals and creating an algae problem. Keep soil, leaves, and lawn clippings out of the street, ditches, storm drains, and streams by bagging them, composting them, or (as suggested above) leaving them right on the lawn as a natural fertilizer.
When you get your leaf blower out to remove the colorful carpet that’s fallen from the trees, please just remember that it is up to you to protect the Lake. Blow the leaves into a pile and bag them, or rake them up and add to the compost pile. Just make sure they don’t end up in the Lake, or you may be unhappy in the spring!
Why does the Lake George Association worry about what you do about your lawn?
Because small problems can combine to make big problems for water quality. Think about it this way: If a half-dozen neighbors in a cove end up adding phosphorus and nitrogen into the water with poor lawn care practices, it can create major problems for water clarity, water quality and (for many) the source of their drinking water.
We are seeing sister Lakes (and Lakes across the country) having problems with algae – both harmful and otherwise – and the LGA is participating in a long-term algae study that is looking at how much nutrients are present in the water throughout the Lake.
What we do know after our years of experience and observation is this: If we work together to keep the nutrients out, we can minimize the amount of algae and invasive species growth we see in Lake George.
And, as Walt said, the responsibility of keeping damaging substances out of the Lake’s water column also includes ensuring your septic system is working properly.
If you are planning new construction or changes to the property in the spring, consider adding rain gardens with native flowering plants, rather than just more lawn. Many of the native plants are easier to maintain than a green carpet, and are better for the Lake. You can see our website for some ideas: https://www.lakegeorgeassociation.org/protect/lake-friendly-living/landscaping-with-native-plants/
Remember: Everything you do should be protective of the Lake.
Is everything you do protective of the Lake?
Kristen Wilde is the Education Director of the Lake George Association, whose members support water quality protection, scientific monitoring, education and lake friendly living programs that benefit the watershed from Lake George Village to Ticonderoga. Kristen has a B.S. in Environmental Science from SUNY Fredonia and has been with the LGA more than a decade.
The Lake George Association is the oldest and most experienced lake protection organization in the country, whose members support water quality protection, water quality monitoring, education and lake-friendly living programs that benefit the watershed from Lake George Village to Ticonderoga.
All the money raised by the Lake George Association goes to projects and programs that benefit the Lake and the watershed, protecting Lake George water quality now and in the future.