Environmentalist of the Month-Tackles Invasives by Hand

  Gaithersburg, Md Sunday, February 17, 2013 By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Concern for one’s environment moves people to take action in a variety of ways, and for Ken Bawer it is getting rid of invasive plants that otherwise would drown out native plants in Montgomery County Md. parks and trails. Bawer is …

Cheryl Kollin, December’s Environmentalist of the Month

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Gaithersburg, Md December 14, 2012 Cheryl Kollin was selected as the Green Gaithersburg.com December environmentalist of the month. Kollin came up with an innovative program called “Farm to Freezer”, a  way to reduce food waste by freezing excess fresh organic vegetables and having the veggies then incorporated …

Environmentalist of the Month Improves Your Watershed and Water Quality

                    Gaithersburg, MD January 20, 2011 By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Jennie Howland is improving the local environment she lives in.   Over the past year, Ms. Howland has helped set up and run the Muddy Branch Alliance, a new non-profit in Gaithersburg, Md. …

Environmentalist of the Month

  By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Gaithersburg, MD Gaithersburg is a city that takes climate change seriously, thanks in large part to resident Karen Rainbolt. Rainbolt was moved to action in by reading about cities throughout the United States that were adopting climate change policies and enacting gas emission standards laid out …

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Less Lawn, More Life

May 7, 2015 Green Blog No Comments
Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

By: Tony Bailey

May 7, 2015

If you join the Izaak Walton League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” program, one of the things we’ll consider together is reducing the amount of lawn in your yard. Here’s why:

A lawn is a monoculture – one plant (in this case, turf grass) covering a significant amount of space, excluding other plants. This limitation on plant diversity means an ecosystem out of balance, since healthy ecosystems thrive on diversity, and few species of local wildlife can use this grass for food.

In our zeal to have the “perfect” lawn, we often add synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to our grass. The pesticides can have a detrimental effect on human and animal health, and the fertilizers compromise the natural processes in the soil. The roots of turf grass do not go very deep, so soils covered with turf grass generally do not absorb water efficiently. This means that when it rains, much of that water is lost as runoff – not a good thing for the Muddy Branch, because the runoff washes those fertilizers and pesticides into the Muddy Branch. Speaking of water, lawns need a lot of it in hot summer months to stay green, leading to higher water bills. And of course, that well-fed lawn is growing, and if it’s going to keep looking perfect, then it has to be mowed. Even if you don’t mind the chore, the mowers are contributing to air and noise pollution.

Note that earlier I said that we would reduce – not eliminate – areas of lawn. Grass can also serve a useful purpose as a nice, walkable surface in a yard. Areas of green lawn can also offer a calming counterpoint to more varied plantings. So we’ll aim to preserve the amount of lawn that you need and convert the rest to rain gardens, conservation landscaping, and canopy trees.[1] With less lawn, you’ll have more life: more wildlife – especially birds, butterflies, and fireflies – to keep you company.

If you live in the Muddy Branch watershed, visit the “Lands Green, Waters Clean” website and request a site visit to get the turf ball rolling. Even if you don’t live near the Muddy Branch, our Web site has plenty of resources to help you turn your yard into a wonderland for birds and butterflies.

[1] I’ll describe those strategies more specifically in upcoming posts, so please check in each week for updates.

[1] I’ll describe those strategies more specifically in upcoming posts, so please check in each week for updates.

Lands Green, Waters Clean: In the ‘Hood, Looking Under the Hood

April 3, 2015 Green Blog No Comments
Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

April 2, 2015

Gaithersburg, Md

By: Toni Bailey

Okay, so you’ve confirmed that your home is in the Muddy Branch watershed, and you’ve visited the Lands Green, Waters Clean Web site and made an appointment for a site visit (also known as a “landscape audit”). It’s time for me to show up. I’m a landscape designer specializing in sustainable landscape consulting and design, and my company is called Gracefully Green, LLC. You can go to my Web site to learn more about me. On this visit, I will learn a lot more about you.

This site visit is a really important first step in the process to be considered for a free landscape installation through the Izaak Walton League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” program. We need to know where the opportunities are in your yard for rain gardens, conservation landscaping, and/or canopy trees. I’ll want to know what is happening with water on your property: do you have wet spots? Does water get inside the house? Does the runoff from your roof or driveway go to storm drains in the street? Have you done anything up until now to manage that water, perhaps by installing a rain barrel?

We’ll also look at how much lawn you have. Can we replace some of it with other plants? If we can do that, I’ll measure the area. What other vegetation do you have in your yard? Do you have invasive plants that could be removed and replaced with native plants? Do you have any canopy trees already on your property? If you do, and they are native trees, we want to be especially careful with those. If you don’t, maybe it’s time to have some – if you have the space for them.

I’ll be curious about your soil, too. Is your property new construction with soils that have taken a beating? Do you clean up and remove leaves each fall or do you allow them to decompose where they fall? Do you compost kitchen scraps and use the finished compost on your yard? Do you have compacted soils anywhere? Eroded soils? How about slopes?

Finally, we’ll talk about critters, be they furry or feathered, big or small – whatever you’ve observed in your yard. If you noticed a snake, perhaps there are small rodents around that it is keeping in check. Maybe, like one family, you’ve noticed hawks nesting in a nearby tree. Perhaps a robin is nesting on your downspout, or you’ve heard the call of a fox in the night. How about a black bear? (It does happen!) And maybe, like many of us in this area, you have lots of deer coming through. The wildlife around us tells us something about our own little ecosystems.

At the end of the visit, I’ll collect $30 from you. This will be the only cost you will have. If your property is selected for landscape design and installation, the rest of the work will be covered by the League. Based on this first visit, I’ll get back to you with a report and recommended next steps as well as a map showing the locations of proposed landscape changes. If you are still interested, we will put your name on the list of properties to be considered for installations. Either way, you will have an action plan that can help improve water quality and make your yard more attractive to birds and pollinators.

Next post: Less Lawn, More Life

 

Lands Green, Water Clean: First Things First

March 10, 2015 Green Blog No Comments

 

Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2015

Gaithersburg, Md

Last week I introduced you to Lands Green, Waters Clean – an Izaak Walton League program to install conservation landscaping, rain gardens, and canopy trees on yards in the Muddy Branch watershed. Today I’ll dig a little deeper and share more details about the first steps in that process so you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.

The first step is to determine whether your home is in the Muddy Branch watershed. (What’s a “watershed”? It’s the area of land that drains into a particular water body.)

This is important, because the Lands Green, Waters Clean program is offering free landscaping to select homes in the Muddy Branch watershed. You may know the Muddy Branch – it’s a stream that starts in Gaithersburg and flows seven miles southwest into the Potomac River and from there to the Chesapeake Bay. Up around Gaithersburg, the stream quality is poor due to heavy development in that area. Developed areas mean more hard surfaces – roads, parking lots, driveways – and rainwater travels much faster over those, gathering dirt and pollution and ending up, unfortunately, in the Muddy Branch.

So here’s how to check whether you are in the Muddy Branch watershed: go to the Montgomery County Environmental Protection Web site. From the menu on the right, click on “Find Your Watershed.” A map of watersheds in the county will load. Below the map, click on “View Larger Map.” Type your address in the bar at the top of the map and wait for your address to be located. You can click on the label that pops up to learn about the watershed. You can also visit the Lands Green, Waters Clean Web site for a map of the Muddy Branch watershed.

Once you’ve confirmed that you live in the Muddy Branch watershed[1], visit the Lands Green, Waters Clean Web site and click on “Yes, send an expert to my yard!” Fill in the blanks and we’ll confirm your request and set up an appointment to come out to see you. Step one, done!

Next post: In the ‘Hood, Looking under the Hood

[1] Not in the Muddy Branch watershed? You can still get a site visit (aka, landscape audit). The cost for visits outside the Muddy Branch watershed is $60, and you will not be eligible for free landscaping through the Lands Green, Waters Clean program. But it’s still worthwhile to convert your yard into a more sustainable landscape that’s attractive to birds and butterflies!

Lands Green, Waters Clean: Hello Neighbor!

March 4, 2015 Green Blog No Comments
Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

By: Toni Bailey

Gaithersburg, Md.

March 4, 2015

What if someone showed up at your door and offered to landscape your yard at very little cost to you? It gets better: not only would the landscaping be beautiful, it would manage water drainage better and attract pollinators and birds.

No, it’s not the Tooth Fairy coming to call – it’s the Izaak Walton League!

The Izaak Walton League (a national conservation group headquartered here in Gaithersburg) is installing conservation landscaping, rain gardens, and canopy trees in Montgomery County yards. The goal is to protect the Muddy Branch – a stream that begins in Gaithersburg and travels seven miles southwest to the Potomac River. By installing rain gardens, conservation landscaping, and canopy trees, more rainwater will be gathered where it falls, less pollution will enter the Muddy Branch, and more yards will attract birds and butterflies.

Here’s how it works: First of all, this offer applies only to residential properties located within the Muddy Branch watershed. (To learn whether you are in that watershed, check the Montgomery County Environmental Protection Web site and click the “Find Your Watershed” link.)

In the right place? Then go to the League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” Web site request a site visit. A landscape consultant will give you custom recommendations for your yard. And once the visit is completed, your property will be considered for the installation program. If selected, homeowners will receive a landscape design and installation at no additional cost to them. The only cost to homeowners is a $30 discounted fee for the first site visit. The League is able to provide the site visits and landscape installation through a generous grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

In return for a new landscape, the League asks participants to maintain the new plants, participate in either the Gaithersburg or Montgomery County Rainscapes Rewards Programs, and help to promote the program to neighbors.

Interested? Throw your hat in the ring and sign up on the Lands Green, Waters Clean website! And check back here over the next few weeks for more details about the program.

 

Plant a Garden in Your Back Yard That Will Help the Environment

March 3, 2015 Green Blog No Comments
Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com

Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Gaithersburg, Md

March 3, 2015

The Izaak Walton League has teamed up with Gracefully Green landscape designer Toni Bailey to help homeowners install conservation landscapes in their back yards, for as little as $30!

Lands Green, Waters Clean is a new Izaak Waltong League grant project aimed at having Gaithersburg, Md residents who live next to the Muddy Branch stream plant conservation gardens, rain gardens, and canopy trees. Funded by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) this program aims to minimize runoff into the Muddy Branch stream, therefore minimizing pollution into the Muddy Branch that eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

Details of how you can sign up to have one of these kinds of gardens installed in your backyard   will be posted tomorrow on Green Gaithersburg. Toni Bailey will explain the Lands Green, Water Clean in a series of posts that will hopefully answer all your questions and have you on your way to installing these kinds of gardens in your backyard.

Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

Toni is a sustainable landscaping consultant and designer based in Silver Spring, Md. I asked her why she likes sustainable designs. “I am a lover of nature who enjoys seeing plants in their natural habitat. I got interested in landscape design in the 1990’s when I looked around at the many houses with large lawns and ho-hum foundation plantings and wondered if we could make this look a little bit better. My conversion to sustainability came a few years later when I attended a green roof symposium in DC. I’ve worked on a variety of projects: a mediation garden at a church, a DC row house with all native plants and rainwater collection the Rachel Carson Elementary conservation landscaping garden, and a permaculture project. These have been the most interesting.

Springtime Greetings from Safe Grow Montgomery!

March 18, 2014 Green Blog No Comments
Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com

Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com

 

 

 

 

 

March 18, 2014

Gaithersburg, Md

Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

I am posting the following for Safe Grow Montgomery, a volunteer coalition (I am part of this organization) whose goal is to stop the unnecessary exposure to lawn care pesticides in Montgomery County, Md by seeking legislation that would prohibit the use of these substances where we live, work and play. 

The following was written by a Safe Grow Montgomery Coalition member.

First, as you probably have noticed, the Spring fertilizer applications have begun, even as we’re hit with another snowstorm! 

Did you know that most early spring fertilizer applications also contain pre-emergent weed killer?

After walking their children to school last Wednesday, a couple of neighbors and one of our Safe Grow Montgomery members watched a pesticide applicator spread a granule substance on the grass of two homes near the elementary school.  When he didn’t post a sign, they asked what he was applying.  He assured them it was just fertilizer (19-0-5, the ratio of nutrients), and that it was safe for them and the dogs they had on leash.  But as they passed the back of his truck, they saw the open bag of product called The Andersons 19-0-5 Fertilizer with .28% Barricade pre emergent herbicide.  The EPA use label for this product warns “hazard to humans and domestic animals,” including warnings against inhalation or skin contact.

This was very disturbing because either the applicator was lying or he didn’t know what he was applying.  Both scenarios are dangerous because the result was that families who walk along that sidewalk had no way to avoid, or even know that the granule that could have been stuck in sneaker treads or puppy paws would bring toxic dust into their homes. 

As long as lawn chemicals are applied, there will be exposure.  It is unfair to make citizens assume this exposure risk, especially given the research showing how dangerous exposure can be, and when there are other safe and effective ways to maintain turf. 

And speaking of research, we want to tell you about a newly published NIH-funded study by doctors at Mt. Sinai and Harvard.  Additional pesticides were identified as toxic to brain development and the human nervous system, including glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.  Please read the attached brief description of the study, which also links directly to the study.  This new study is significant not only for linking more pesticides to neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, but because it points out the weaknesses and outdated methods of testing chemicals for EPA approval. 

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2014/3/science-neurotox/file642628.pdf

The American Academy of Pediatrics Position on Pesticides, November 26, 2012, “Policy Statement – Pesticide Exposure in Children”  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/6/e1757.full.pdf

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee Opinion, Number 575, October 2013, “Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents”  http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_Health_Care_for_Underserved_Women/Exposure_to_Toxic_Environmental_Agents

 

Landscape Sustainability and Lawns: Less is More

November 6, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

 

 

Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

November 5, 2013

Rockville, Md

By: Toni Bailey

I’m a landscape designer by training, a naturalist by affinity. My specialty is sustainable landscape design. Someone asked me once:  “Does ‘sustainable landscaping’ mean that the plants live?”  Well, I hope so, but maybe it’s more about how they live.

In sustainable landscaping, the idea is to live within your means, to embrace a landscape that uses the resources that Nature provides, and to avoid importing additional resources. Another way to look at it is working within a resource budget.  Sustainable landscape practices include soils and water management. For now, let’s concentrate on plants. To stay within our resource budget, we should choose plants that are already adapted to historical conditions in terms of climate, rainfall, and soils. Best bets for plant choices are therefore plants native to the region.

But many of us have lawns, which are composed of turf grasses not native to the region. As traditionally managed, lawns are the poster children for lacking sustainability:  to thrive, they require extra resources in water and nutrients, as well as maintenance practices such as cutting which are typically performed with pollution-emitting machinery. In our zeal to have a beautiful lawn, we routinely apply pesticides to kill the weeds, insects, and diseases that attack. With all these controls and inputs, we stray far from sustainability and even cause harm, to ourselves, to wildlife, and to our water supply.

Is it worth it? It’s pretty hard to argue that it is. And yet I’ll admit I would not eliminate them in every case. Lawns have their benefits:  they provide a walkable, playable surface outdoors, and the grasses do deliver some cooling. For landscape design purposes, they offer a calming contrast to showier plants. So, is it possible to have a lawn and live sustainably?

My answer is, just try to get as close as you can. You may not be able to do everything, but you can do much. Reduce your lawn area; chances are good that you don’t need as much as you have. Opt for seed blends that are designed for less mowing and watering (they do exist!). Let go of the notion that you must apply fertilizers and pesticides. If you must water, do it strategically; don’t use a sprinkler during the hottest part of the day, when more of the water will evaporate. In a drought, abandon watering the grass and keep the trees watered instead, because they need it the most. Create your own version of lawn “offsets” by making sure that you have plenty of native trees and shrubs in addition to lawn.

Not only will you have a healthier landscape; you’ll save money too. Finally, if having the lawn is what gets you and your family outdoors, to connect with the environment, then have a lawn – just have less of it.

 

www. gracefullygreen.com

 

Learn all About Sustainable Gardening Practices

November 4, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

 

 

 

Editorial

November 1, 2013

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Gaithersburg, Md

Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

I am so pleased to introduce Toni Bailey of Gracefully Green  as a new contributor to Green Gaithersburg.  Toni will be sharing her knowledge about  how to incorporate sustainable landscape  ideas in our own yards throughout the seasons, as well as describing to landscape projects that she is working on.  Toni has a Master of Landscape Design degree from George Washington University with a concentration on sustainability.

Toni owns and operates Gracefully Green, LLC in Rockville, Maryland, specializing in landscape sustainability consulting and design, and is affiliated with Amicus Green Building Center in Kensington, Maryland as a landscape specialist. She is a LEED Green Associate and an accredited Green Roof Professional with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Gracefully Green, LLC is a Montgomery County, Maryland Certified Green Business.

Please leave any questions for Toni, you can email her at:  info@gracefullygreen.com.  Her first post will go out this Tuesday, November 5th, and is about sustainable lawn care principles.

Thank you.

Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin, founder Green Gaithersburg.com

 

 

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Meatless Monday Recipes

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Parmesan Croutons

19 Nov 2013

A good friend, Denise Clark, sent in this vegetarian seasonal recipe.   1 3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes (5-6 cups) 2 tablespoons of olive oil 2 teaspoons of  kosher salt Pinch of freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon butter 1 large onion, diced 1 tablespoon …

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Meatless Monday Butternut Squash Ravioli

4 Nov 2013

From Chef John at allrecipes.com Ingredients  Original recipe makes 6 servings 1 cup mashed, cooked butternut squash 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 pinch cayenne pepper 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese 1 egg yolk 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 (16 ounce) package round wonton wrappers 2 …

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Meatless Monday Proclaimed by Montgomery County Council

22 Jul 2013

July 22, 2013 Gaithersburg, Md By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin I was so pleased to find out that Montgomery County Council has officially endorsed Meatless Mondays, a nationwide effort to choose more plant-based foods. For more information about this news read Compassion Over Killing’s website.  Also, Naomi Bloch sent in a Meatless …

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Meatless Monday Recipe- Roasted Cauliflower

17 Jun 2013

  This recipe sounds delicious and I am going to try it tonight because I have a cauliflower sitting in my fridge and I need to cook it! Will let you know what it tastes like!- Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Recipe is from BonApetit Ingredients Roasted Cauliflower 2 1/2 cups dry white …

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Meatless Mondays-Caramelized Onion Tart

20 May 2013

Here is a vegetarian recipe for an Onion tart. I just read up and now understand that a tart is made in ribbed dish, the bottom part of the pan can come out, and the tart can be all sorts of shapes vs. a quiche is in round pie dish… …

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