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About the Project

Poor treatment of soils in new residential developments increases the potential for nutrient and sediment runoff, often leading to degradation of water resources.

Because soil structure is disturbed and compacted during the construction process, lawns are difficult to establish and maintain; thus greater amounts of fertilizer may be applied to these lawns than those established on good quality topsoil.

To address this problem, our project will investigate and promote two best management practices (BMPs): the use of a lawn seed mixture containing a commercialized nitrogen-fixing legume called microclover; and incorporation of compost during soil preparation that can be used by builders, landscape professionals and homeowners to reduce nitrogen fertilization and nutrient runoff from lawns.

The project includes a showcase residential development where the effectiveness of the project BMPs will be demonstrated and subsequently marketed to the building and development communities. Additional satellite sites in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia are included to demonstrate the "watershed-wide" utility of the BMPs, and to provide targeted regional outreach opportunities to decision makers, practitioners, and educators who work directly with homeowners.

It is expected that this project will initiate a shift in lawn culture away from a highly fertilized turfgrass monoculture to a more diverse plant community that requires little, if any nitrogen fertilizer.