A Clean Sweep

Keep clippings off the street and sidewalks; consider composting
August 1, 2011
The Marietta Times

When mowing the lawn, whether in a rural or urban setting, we just want to get it done. Many times lawn furniture, flower pots, vehicles, bicycles and lawn toys have to be moved around to accommodate mowing. This takes time and sometimes creates aggravation. As we mow we are many times thinking of additional yard chores that we have promised ourselves to complete this year. The last thing we think of is what to do with unsightly lawn clipping and other organic lawn debris.

So why worry about it? Debris from mowing can create problems if left on impervious areas such as roads, sidewalks or parking lots. Rain will wash debris into the path of storm water runoff. This could plug drains, culverts and create residue in ditches. Once it makes it to a stream, decaying organic matter depletes oxygen from the water, robbing aquatic life in the stream of oxygen, and upsetting an ecological balance. In urban settings, storm drains get plugged causing increased cleaning cost to the city The street sweeper has to move at a slower pace picking up grass from the street. Both increase the cost of maintenance decreasing available funds for general repairs and rebuilds to the city storm drain system.

What are out options?
Even though its considered as waste product, clipping are a valuable resource of nutrients for our soil – in any setting, rural or urban. The city of Marietta streets department reports excessive amounts of grass clippings in the street this year. Storm drains are getting plugged more frequently. The street sweeper has to move at a slower pace picking up grass from the street. Both increase the cost of maintenance decreasing available funds for general repairs and rebuilds to the city storm drain system.

To remedy the situation, the department reminds homeowners, businesses and their lawn service company to remove grass clippings from the street and other impervious areas such as sidewalks. Sometimes this is as easy as discharging it back onto the grass around the lawn's perimeter during the mowing process. Other situations require sweeping or blowing the grass to a better location.

If you decide to collect clippings and debris, these can be added to a backyard compost or taken to the Greenleaf Composting Facility. Participants are asked to stop by Greenleaf Landscaping on Muskingum Drive to make these arrangements before heading out to the Composting Facility on Ohio 821 just north of Marietta. This service is free to Marietta residents and business owners.

Another incentive to clean up after mowing: Jonathan Hupp, city of Marietta safety service director, reminds us that grass and debris cleaned from the streets by city workers may require the city to recoup the cost. Home or business owners may be billed for the cleanup.

If you are concerned with excessive grass and mowing debris along the street in your neighborhood or business area, you may contact Kathy Davis at the Washington Soil and Water Conservation, (740) 373-7113, ext. 229. Attempts to contact the landowner or business will be made to discuss options for cleanup.

Kathy Davis is with the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District.