There are so many great ideas we can pursue to make our backyards more attractive and nature friendly. Suitable landscapes invite birds, wildlife and butterflies. Yards are not just for mowing, there are many opportunities to get outside and turn your own yard into a haven or venture out into the larger community and enjoy natural resources. On this page you will find web site links with all sorts of information related to outdoor spaces.
Citizenís Action Directory for Water Quality
in Prince William County has just been updated by the Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District (PWSWCD). Contact information is provided for issues concerning Agriculture & Forestry, Public Roads & Facilities, Lawn Care & Landscaping, Hazardous Waste & Spills, Public Water & Sewer-Private Wells & Septic, Litter, Recycling & Solid Waste, Stream & River Cleanups, Soil, Erosion, and Drainage & Storm Water Management.
How Well is your Well Water? The Virginia Household Water Quality Program provides education and assistance
If you have a private water source, such as a well, spring or cistern, YOU are responsible for the safety of your family's water quality and the maintenance of your supply system! The Virginia Master Well Owner Network is a group of trained, dedicated Virginia Cooperative Extension educator/agents and volunteers who have completed training about protecting and maintaining private water systems, and about water conservation, testing and treatment.
Virginia Cooperative Extension - Prince William staff and locat Master Well Owner volunteers are offering a Drinking Water Clinic
locally this spring.
The Kick-off Meeting is March 31, 7-8:30pm Old Manassas Courthouse, 9248 Lee Avenue, Manassas
, $49 fee (no cash please!) includes the Kick-off Meeting, Water Sample Drop-off for testing, and the Water Test Results Interpretation Meeting. Water Sample Drop-off Meeting, April 2, 6:30 - 10am, at the VCE office 8033 Ashton Avenue, Suite 105,
and the Water Test Results Interpretation Meeting, May 12, 7-8:30pm, Old Manassas Courthouse, 9248 Lee Avenue, Manassas.
Click here for information and registration instructions
Home Environment Safety
Unused Medication and Used Sharps Disposal
What do you do with the medications in your cabinet that have expired or are no longer being used? If you toss them in the garbage or flush them down the toilet, they may filter into the groundwater and end up in our waterways, and then in our drinking water. To provide an alternative to possibly polluting our water, you may take your unused medications in their original bottle, or not, personal information blacked out on the bottle, and your used sharps in a rigid plastic or metal container so that sharps cannot penetrate the packaging, to the Prince William County Landfill at Independent Hill. Stop at the kiosk and ask for medical waste disposal. That is the safest way to dispose of these materials.
Water Toxicity Testing
- If you have questions about your water and would like to get it tested for contaminants you can call the Environmental Health Specialist, Marie Wicker. at the PWC Environmental Health Department
703.792.7335 or the main number 703.192.6310. (fMarie has limited office hours because she is out in the field most of the day.) For a fee of $80+/- (depending on what you want to have tested) they can test your water for a limited number of contaminants. If you have a doctor's orders for the soil or water to be tested for certain contaminants they may do the tests at no cost to you. There are also independent labs that will test your water. A full spectrum test is about $500. Here is a list of local labs
. For information on water testing see www.vt.edu and type in water testing. To request water testing from PWC Environmental Health Department Water Testing Request Form
This EPA publication Home Water Testing
is good information on when and how to test your water.
Soil Toxicity Testing
- Soil testing for contaminants is a lot more complicated and very expensive. For information call John Diehl at Environmental Consultants and Contractors, 703.327.2900. They perform soil testing which costs several hundreds to thousands of dollars. According to the Michigan State University Extension, "There is no one test for all soil contaminants: it will take many separate tests to rule out many possible contaminants."
Green Risks mission is to provide information useful to property owners and home owners and those interested in the natural world especially in our local region. The blog is a mix of technical guidance and interesting information with a slant towards information to live a greener and more sustainable life. You will find articles on a wide range of water and environmental topics including help with water well problems and maintenance, septic systems and regulations, solar energy, low impact development, the future of lawn care in Virginia, cost share money for farmers, and many others.
The VAMWON consists of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) educator/agents and screened volunteers trained in the proper design, management, and maintenance of private water supply systems (springs, wells, and cisterns). VAMWON trained VCE educator/agents organize and conduct county-based drinking water clinics and serve as a local resource for clientele with household water quality concerns. Contact your local certified Master Well Owner Network
Power Outage... be prepared for electrical outages in your home..
Don't get caught unprepared for an extended power outage. This publication will steer you in the right direction: Farm Generator
-Virginia Cooperative Extension publication.
"The Waste Stops Here"
Eliminating packaged goods from our lives would be a huge step toward environmental stewardship. TerraCycle partners with schools and nonprofits to collect used packaging - such as drink pouches, energy-bar wrappers, yogurt cups, chip bags, and more -- and pays you for your efforts and the shipping is on them when you print a shipping label online!
Get information and start collecting trash at www.terracycle.net
Learning to live with coyotes in an urban setting
a publication from Virginia Tech
is available for your gardening/landscaping needs, from your local horse owners. Be sure to call ahead for availability and status of composting. SEE INFORMATION BELOW REGARDING HERBICIDE CARRYOVER IN MANURE!
READ THIS INFORMATION BEFORE YOU USE COMPOSTED MANURE
"There have been a number of reports from organic farmers and home gardeners of damage to vegetables following application of aged and composted horse and cattle manure to the soil. The symptoms exhibited on the crops are twisted, cupped, and elongated leaves; misshapen fruit; reduced yield; death of young plants; and poor seed germination. One possibility for the source of this crop injury is the presence of certain herbicides in manure and compost." reports Jeanine Davis in the report Herbicide Carryover in Manure
Additional information from Greg Evanylo, Professor and Extension Specialist, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech has been received regarding non-compostable herbicide. "DuPont has developed and is marketing a relatively new post-emergent broadleaf weed herbicide, Imprelis (TM), for turfgrass that contains the same active ingredient, aminocyclopyrachlor, that has previously demonstrated residual phytotoxicity to many plant species after composting. Although the herbicide is intended for use by only commercial applicators, it would be prudent to be aware of the scope of its use. The label regarding composting states, Do not use grass clippings from treated areas for mulching or compost, or allow for collection to composting facilities. Grass clippings must either be left on the treated area, or, if allowed by local yard waste regulations, disposed of in the trash. Applicators must give verbal or written notice to property owner/property manager/residents to not use grass clippings from treated turf for mulch or compost."
Pyridine Herbicide Carryover: Causes and Precautions
, prepared by Pat Hipkins, Assistant Coordinator, Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs, provides additional information on plant injury due to residual herbicides.
Introducing the USDA People's Garden Initiative!
Kudo's to Ashland Elementary School in Manassas for taking part in this great project!!!!!
When Abraham Lincoln founded the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1862, he referred to it as "The People's Department." On February 12, 2009, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack broke ground on the first People's Garden at USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC commenorating that historical event. Today, USDA Agencies and community organizations are working together in establishing People's Gardens to educate and engage the public. People's Gardens must be collaborative efforts that:
- Are accessible to and benefit the community,
- Incorporate sustainable practices, and
- Educate to promote health and wellness, environmental stewardship, and social connections within the community.
There are now 1,245 People's Gardens across the country that showcase Pollinator Beds, Native Species, Organics, Wildlife Habitat, Water Gardens, etc. For more information
or call the local contact, Roger Flint, NRCS, Warrenton office in Fauquier County, 540-347-3120.
Chesapeake Bay Program Launches "Plant More Plants" Campaign Encouraging Homeowners to Grow Some Good in their Own Backyards
From their backyards to the Bay, homeowners are hearing about an environmental awareness campaign taking root in the Richmond, Baltimore, D.C. Metro area and Hampton Roads regions that aims to "grow some good." The "Plant More Plants
" campaign, led by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), with a number of other Chesapeake Bay Program partners in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., aims to encourage homeowners to "plant more plants" as a way to mitigate stormwater runoff and erosion and ultimately help improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The Plant More Plants website
offers information and a series of simple and affordable landscape plans
available in dowloadable pdf format. And follow these tips
for keeping your Lawn Green and the Chesapeake Bay Clean. Take the pledge
to Plant More Plants today!
Soil Conservation Information
Getting Started with Your Soil
Conservation Landscaping Guidelines: The Eight Essential Elements of Conservation Landscaping
published by Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council
A Virginian's Year-Round Guide to Yard Care
Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping
Native plants - learn more about what kind of native plants you have in your backyard and how to grow them
Prince William Wildflower Society
Virginia Native Plant Society
BayScaping, a program of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is a holistic approach to landscaping that promotes water quality, provides habitat for wildlife, stresses the use of native
plants, and informs citizens how to reduce their use of mowers, fertilizers and pesticides. Literature and information is available
(or call the Richmond office at (804) 775-0951).
Unhappy with your lawn?
Grass is a high maintenance plant. To grow grass well, you have to understand its needs. Healthy grass is the best defense against weeds, pests and diseases in your lawn. BEST Lawns Can Help!
The BEST Lawn Program: B
- Makes the best use of valuable resources: your time and money
- Protects your neighborhood streams, lakes, ponds, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay
The BEST Lawn Program will help you learn turf fertilization, maintenance practices and timing, to prevent problems. Depending upon the current condition of your lawn, converting to a BEST Lawn will take some time and planning. Don't delay!
When you join BEST Lawns, an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer will collect a soil sample and measure your total lawn area. You will receive a BEST Lawn care handbook and a customized lime and fertilizer plan for your lawn. A fee of $25 covers one soil test and provides program materials. Additiional soil tests are $15 each. Download and print the BEST Lawns Application to enroll. Please note: lawn assessments are prioritized by date of receipt, weather, soil moisture and volunteer availability.
Downloads: Cool Season Turf Calendar, Warm Season Turf Calendar,
Virginia Weed ID. For more assistance with lawn care, contact Thomas Bolles, VCE Environmental Educator at 703.792.4037 or email.
Need more help for your lawn or landscape? Prince William Cooperative Extensionís Environment and Natural Resources program is a great resource.
If you would rather hire someone to care for your lawn, you will find a company that will care for the environment while caring for your lawn, Lawn Care Operators with Water Quality Agreements with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Tips on Keeping the Lawn Green and Chesapeake Bay Clean, a publication by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Bringing conservation from the countryside to your Backyard, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) publication
Prince William Master Gardeners Teaching Garden
Easy Grass and Leaf Backyard Composting
Backyard Wildlife Habitats
Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries - Landscaping for the Birds
The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia
Natural Resource Conservation Service This Web site has wonderful ideas to make your backyard better
Backyard Conservation Publication - NRCS
Virginia Rain Water Harvesting Manual
Gardening and the Environment
Organic Vegetable Gardening
Speciality Vegetable Crop Production
Habitat at Home© is an outreach program of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries that provides information and education to the public about how to create or improve
wildlife habitat around the home. Contact Carol Heiser, Habitat Education Coordinator at the Richmond office for more details; (804) 367-6989 or e-mail Carol.Heiser@dgif.virginia.gov. Visit the agency website
Cliff Fairweather is the point person for the Northern Virginia area for Audubon at Home, Office 703-256-6895, 4022 Hummer Rd Annandale Va 22003.
Stormwater Management and Urban Best Management Practices
Use nature, vegetation, rain gardens, and rain barrels to help control erosion and stormwater runoff, as low impact development (LID) techniques.
To be contacted to be notified of a local rain barrel workshop or for a rain barrel workshop PowerPoint Presentation contact PWSWCD
EPA Pond Management Guidelines
"Where Does the Stormwater Go"
Rain Gardens are bioretention facilities that intercept
runoff and use plants and soil layers to
Rain Gardens - A Technical Guide, VA Department of Forestry
Northern Virginia Rain Garden Design and Construction, a Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District publication
Rain Garden Plants for Urban Water-Quality Management:
This flyer gives you ideas on how to build a rain garden
Horticultural Best Management Practices
Where does the stormwater go?
Fishing Pond Management
Virginia Cooperative Extension's article on Pond Construction: Some Practical Considerations
Ponds - Planning, Design, Construction
Other Pond Management Resources
Farm pond consultations may be scheduled through us, see email address in side bar.
Garden for Wildlife
Attracting Wildlife to your Garden from National Wildlife Federation :
Bird Feeding 101
Attracting Wildlife with Dead Trees
Other property enhancements
Virginia Cooperative Extension-Prince William
: gives assistance with lawn, tree, pests, weeds and overall residential property enhancements
Master Gardener and Master Naturalist Programs
information and training
information and training
: Make your environment cleaner, safer, more eco-friendly, and much more cost effective with these natural cleansers.
Make Your Own:
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- Glass Cleaners
- Scouring Powders
- Bathroom Cleaners
- Kitchen Cleaners
- Kitchen Surfaces
- Furniture Polish and Scratch Covers
- Floor Cleaners
- Metal Cleaners
- Automotive Cleaners and Care
- Miscellaneous Cleaners (gummed labels, grease cutters, paint brushes, rust removers, shoe polish/care/deodorizer, stain and spot removers, tar remover, vinyl cleaner, wallpaper cleaner)
- Insect/Rodent Repellents