Tipton Lakes Community Association Clean Water Initiative

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PURPOSE: To provide a set of guidelines that will serve as a guide for Tipton Lakes Community Association in maintaining common areas and for homeowners in maintaining their lawns in Tipton Lakes to help preserve the quality of the water.

GENERAL GUIDELINES:  The following guidelines are provided to understand how to maintain the turf throughout Tipton Lakes to reduce the potential effect on water quality.  These guidelines apply to all homes in Tipton Lakes.  The water run-off from homes that are not directly on the lake ends up in the storm sewers, that empties into the lakes.

FERTILIZER TIPS

The classical fertilizer mix includes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is the most soluble of these elements and therefore the most prone to leaching or runoff. Nitrogen has the least influence on aquatic weed and algae growth. It is also the least likely to have rapidly detrimental effects on the quality of the water. Nitrogen is rapidly digested in water by microbes, oxidized by available dissolved oxygen, or cycled to the sediments or atmosphere. Phosphorus has the greatest impact on aquatic weed and algae growth and should be used on lawns adjacent to water only if needed (have the soil in your lawn tested to see if it requires a phosphate-containing fertilizer). It is estimated that 1 pound of phosphorus could support 300 – 500 pounds of algae growth. Phosphorus is not very soluble and is bound tightly to the soil. It usually enters the water attached to the soil as a result of erosion, or by releasing out of the benthic sediments as organic material decomposes. Therefore, prevent soil on your property from eroding into surface water.

  • Make a 5 to 10 foot-wide buffer strip adjacent to any water body and apply no fertilizer to this strip.
  • Use a zero-phosphorus fertilizer if phosphorus levels are adequate.
  • Do not apply fertilizer in the spring until 3 weeks after lawn green-up.
  • A general fertilizer application sequence for high quality lawns would be May, early July, September, and late October/early November.
  • Pay attention to the labels! This is no place for the “if 5 pounds is good, 10 pounds would be better” approach. Over fertilization can be as detrimental to your lawn’s health as under fertilization.
  • Never let fertilizer land directly in the water. Use a buffer strip adjacent to the water to safeguard your application. Use a drop spreader to control application near the buffer strip.
  • Keep fertilizers off any concrete or asphalt surfaces. Rainwater could carry these materials into a storm sewer system that connects to the lakes. Sweep or blow fertilizers off the hard surfaces back onto the lawn. Use liquid fertilizers when you can. Such as those that have the container connect to a garden hose and dispense a pre-calibrated volume. These are less likely to leach and land off site and are often more readily available to the grass.
  • Don’t fill the spreader near the water. An accidental spill at this time could cause considerable impact.
  • If you use a professional lawn care service, make certain its technicians are familiar with water protection techniques.

MOWING TIPS

Proper mowing can produce healthier turf that can withstand more stress and pest pressure. Mow high and regularly. Raising the mowing height will enhance the quality and health of your lawn. A height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches is a general recommendation for most turf species. For best results, remove only one-third of the leaf blade at each mowing.

  • Sharp mower blades provide a better cut and a healthier turf stand. Dull blades tear leaf blades and provide more sites for disease infection.
  • Returning clippings to the turf can reduce the total need for fertilizer.
  • Routine clipping removal from the lawn will reduce soil phosphorus levels over time.
  • Do not allow clippings to reach the water! This is like throwing fertilizer into the water and must be as diligently avoided. Lawn clippings contain about 0.13 pounds of phosphorus per 1,000 square-feet during a growing season. How many pounds of phosphorus does your lawn generate? How many pounds of algae does this support?
  • Do not refuel the mower near the water. An accidental spill could cause considerable impact.

IRRIGATION TIPS

Many properties in Tipton Lakes Community Association have an irrigation system.  Excessive moisture increases the potential to move nutrients out of the thatch and root zone of the turf and into the water.

  • During periods of adequate rainfall, turn the irrigation system off!
  • The first rain or irrigation after a fertilizer or pesticide application is the most critical. Excessive watering immediately after a fertilizer application raises the potential for these products to move in runoff water.
  • The potential increases on properties with clay soils and steep slopes adjacent to the lake.
  • A light watering after a fertilizer or pesticide application will move these products into the thatch and root zone. There, the potential for them to move out of the soil profile and into surface water is significantly reduced.

PESTICIDE USE TIPS

  • Always follow label directions.
  • Keep products off impervious surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks.
  • Spot treat areas rather than use blanket treatments whenever possible.
  • Establish a buffer strip adjacent to the water where no pesticides are applied.

TREE AND LEAVES TIPS

Leaves are organic and consist of the elements that were used to make them – carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.  These are the same components that help aquatic plants and algae thrive in our lakes. When leaves fall off trees and decay, they release those nutrients back into the environment.  Putting leaves in the water is fertilizing our lakes for next year’s growth.  Leaves in the street wash into the storm drains and from there they go directly into the lakes.  In addition to a major “ick” factor, when the algae die and decompose at the bottom of the lake, it uses up oxygen that fish and native plants need.

  • Mulch fallen leaves into your lawn with a lawnmower.
  • Gather fallen leaves out of the street and storm drains and place them on the curb.
  • Check the City of Columbus website for leaf pick-up dates and time your raking to minimize leaves’ time on the curb. https://www.columbus.in.gov/public-works/sanitation-and-trash/brush-collection/
  • Keep trees trimmed away from the lake to limit the number of leaves dropping directly into the water.
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