Stormwater runoff increased by large lawns? Yes! And at new building sites water risk is increased: Top soil is removed and replaced with a thin layer while heavy equipment compacts the soil; grass roots can’t get in deep and the result is a “sheet flow” of water that doesn’t infiltrate the soil. Turf runoff with all its fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides flows on to help make floods.
And, Wow! Lake George recommendations for saving their lake from poisonous runoff would also help prevent floods: (1) Limit the size of a grass lawn. (2) Plant or maintain a stream buffer and a rain garden. (3) Mow the grass to a height of 3 inches or more … (4) Leave grass clippings on the lawn as a natural fertilizer. (5) Do not use fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.
Following these guidelines would help immensely. If we simply took lawns back to their size before power mowers – at least before riding mowers – there would be less flood risk. And if golf courses were smart enough to promote a game played on grass an inch or two higher, they would become a healthy instead of a dangerous model. All the tiredly-perfect institutional lawns don’t help either.
Now that I’ve offended the lawn care companies, yard equipment makers, and many of my friends and neighbors, let me add: this is a big deal because USA lawn acreage is greater than Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island combined.
If we could come even close to Lake George guidelines we’d have less flood danger in Iowa and we’d have cleaner, safer water, too. Maybe even make Iowa more competitive with Lake George in tourist attraction. You get the picture?