Three essential elements of a bay-friendly yard

Save the Great South Bay urges environmental stewardship

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According to the Save the Great South Bay, the eastern part of the United States is experiencing flooding while the western part is parched.

Director of Save the Great South Bay, biologist and environmental attorney Frank Piccininni, hosted a talk last month promoting local stewardship for better environmental health. Nitrogen issues in the bay, he said, can be attributed to the mainland, hence the focus on the bay-friendly yards program, which can help people take the issue into their own hands.

He highlighted the three essential elements of a bay-friendly yard:

Habitat restoration: Native plantings support local pollinators like caterpillars, birds and are additive to the ecosystem. 

“They really help maintain and enhance the land and foster life,” Piccininni explained.

Addition by subtraction, he said, is the method in which removing invasive plants allow for native plants to grow back. Easy native plants he recommends include chokeberry rather than burning bush and big blue stem grass rather than fountain grass.

English ivy, he added, is another invasive plant that is known to strangle trees. Also, hydrangeas are beautiful, but have no value and are strictly ornamental. Statues, he said, would be equally as attractive.

Stormwater management: stormwater picks up nitrogen from fertilizer and pesticides as well as from roadway debris and septic systems, he said. All of it is picked up and rushed down into the bay.

Bioswales and rain gardens can help diffuse some of that runoff by providing a place for the water to naturally sit and absorb. Also, rain barrels can help collect the runoff for later use in gardens.

Proactive stewardship: Lastly, Piccininni suggests taking pride and ownership in your local lot. Rather than maintenance, stewardship implies thoughtful care.

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