The River Keeper

Keep it on the Lawn

Fall is a good time to do some lawn maintenance and prepare for next spring's growing season. One of things you can do to improve your lawn and water quality this season is to keep the leaves on the lawn!

Mulch Mowing

Best Management Practice:

The City of Roanoke encourages property owners to implement "Best Management Practices" to improve water quality and decrease runoff from lawns. One of these practices is known as "Mulch-Mowing." 

before and after

Mulch-Mowing essentially acts like a “food processor” for lawns by chopping grass clippings and leaves many times before depositing the bits right back into the turfgrass. Mulch-Mowing not only helps to keep turfgrass lush, green, and healthy, but also saves time and energy while reducing the load on stormwater systems.

While dedicated mulching mowers may work best, virtually any rotary mower will do the job with the installation of a mulching blade or mulching kit. Just set the mower to 3” cutting height or greater and mow as usual every week. The mulched material decomposes and incorporates new organic matter into the topsoil, reducing water and fertilizer needs over time.

Mulch-mowing helps Mother Nature keep your lawn lush, green and healthy and saves you time and labor.

Fewer leaves in the street mean better environmental stewardship:

  • Leaf piles may clog the storm drain system causing flooded streets & potentially flooded properties.

  • Leaf pile storm water runoff dumps phosphorus leachate into the Roanoke’s streams and rivers potentially decreasing oxygen availability for fish and other aquatic life.

Fewer leaves in the street mean cleaner, safer, & more aesthetically pleasing streets:

  • Leaf piles may become dangerous unseen obstacles if workers have to plow an early season snow.

  • Leaf piles may become slippery when wet, creating potential hazards for pedestrians.

  • Leaf piles may become fire hazards if a vehicle’s exhaust or a careless cigarette comes into contact with dry leaves.


Healthy soils can soak up stormwater

Mulch-mowing adds needed nutrients to your soil. When soils are healthy, they soak up stormwater runoff. A technique called soil restoration, enhances compacted soils to improve their porosity and nutrient retention. Soil restoration improves soil structure by increasing porosity for root growth and microbial activity, and retain more water and nutrients for plant uptake.

You can enhance your soil's health by adding compost.  Composting leaves and grass clippings with other organic matter enhances soil structure, infiltration, root growth, and water-holding capacity and reduces soil compaction. 

Increasing  soil porosity can reduce runoff approximately 30% to 50% when used with other practices throughout a watershed, such as rooftop disconnections and grass channels. You can learn more about reducing stormwater runoff in the Roanoke Stormwater Ideabook.

Only Rain Down the Storm Drain 

The City of Roanoke is serious about improving the quality of stormwater entering our creeks, streams, and rivers. Citizens have a role in this effort by helping to ensure that only rainwater enters the City's stormwater drainage system. Curbs, gutters, ditchlines and other stormwater conveyances are all considered portions of the City's stormwater drainage system.

This system is designed for local flood control and moves stormwater during rain events into the nearest local waterway. The stormwater that enters this system is not filtered or treated in any way and flows through the pipe network before discharging into the nearest creek or stream. The mowing or blowing of grass clippings and leaves into the City’s stormwater drainage system is not only an “illicit discharge” but also considered stormwater pollution because this practice can impair water quality as well as restrict water flow and/or create localized flooding.

Report an illicit discharges!

Residents who observe illegal dumping or observe pollutants within waterways or storm drains should contact the City of Roanoke, Stormwater Division at [email protected]  or by calling 540-853-5900.

Storm Drain

Clean and Green

Saving Water = Saving Energy 

The collection, distribution, and treatment of drinking water and wastewater nationwide consumes tremendous amounts of energy and releases approximately 116 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year--as much global warming pollution each year as 10 million cars. Providing household with safe drinking water and wastewater disposal is an energy-intensive process. Nationwide, about 4 percent of power generation is used for water supply and treatment. Reducing water consumption saves the energy. Reducing energy saves water. 

Clean Valley Council

Stay in stream

Become a Citizen Water Quality Monitor with Roanoke Stormwater and Clean Valley Council 
Contact us for more information!

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National Weatherization Day

Be part of the solution, not the pollution. Together, we can leave a Clean Water Legacy!
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