Garden Mulch Helps Waterways if enough people use it. Much of the dirt in our waterways is due to storm water picking up chemicals and debris. Many of these items result in damage to rivers, streams,catchments and oceans. We sense that this causes pollution and depletes marine life, and we see it clearly in times of flood, but it only takes a shower.
When it is raining heavily, rainwater flows over the lawns and gardens picking up debris,pesticides, fertilizers, oil and many other harmful substances. These are subsequently dumped into the streams, bays and rivers.
If the body of water water collecting this run off is small, the pollution effect can be quite serious. The local ecosystem will struggle to deal with the chemicals concentrated in a small area..
Using garden mulch helps waterways, but is only one choice we can make to help out water systems..
When we are mulching within the borders of a garden, we are creating a sponge that absorbs the storm water. Similarly adding good compost which attracts garden worms, also leads to greater water absorption.This prevents it from running off into the waterways and leeching fertilizers and other harmful chemicals. The storm water is absorbed by the mulch and retained in the soil. We are keeping the chemicals within the beds, where they are broken down by bacteria and plants. In this way pollutants are kept well away from waterways.
Garden mulch helps waterways in a number of ways:-
- Adding mulch or compost to the soil increases the “sponge effect” and the soil will be able to better retain surface water, thus helping to reduce the runoff that could otherwise pollute waterways.
- The presence of compost or mulch on the gardens will also promote the development of healthy root systems which will cut down on the water runoff.
- Using mulch and compost in your gardens reduces or eliminates the use of synthetic fertilizers. These are the leading polluters of the waterways. If the mulch is well prepared, you will be able to eliminate the use of fertilizer altogether. and cultivate healthy plants in a sustainable, organic manner.
- Runoff from a garden that has been enriched with mulch, will only enrich the river or stream ecosystems,not pollute them. This is the biggest benefit for our waterways when mulch is used in gardens.
- Mulch also contains beneficial micro-organisms that will break down harmful chemicals, pests and diseases that may otherwise be picked up in storm water.
- Using mulch has a large impact on the water carrying capacity of the soil. Increasing the organic material in the soil by only 5%, will quadruple it’s water holding capacity. This significantly cuts down on runoff to the waterways.
Mulching and other sustainable practices can only help waterways if a large number of people use them
Fortunately many local authorities are showing they way. Council staff now routinely mulch parkland areas.