Master Gardeners can help you become Bay-Wise

May 06, 2008|By ANNETTE IPSAN

Are you Bay-Wise?

Do you practice environmentally-friendly practices in your garden that help the health of the Chesapeake Bay?

A new Bay-Wise program from the Washington County Master Gardeners teaches homeowners how to evaluate and improve their gardening practices to build healthier backyards while bolstering the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Why is this important? We all live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The water in our storm drains, creeks, streams and rivers eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. What we do in our backyards impacts on the health of our local waterways and the Bay.

The health of the Chesapeake Bay is in decline. Pollution-reducing measures have been countered by the impacts of three million people who've moved into the watershed in the last two decades. Aggressive efforts are needed to preserve this important source of food, recreation and commerce. The Master Gardeners Bay-Wise program is a great way to get involved on a personal level.


How do you get started? First, you review your current gardening practices using a Bay-Wise yardstick. That's a brochure that helps you evaluate the ways you fertilize and water, mulch and compost, plant and manage pests.

To find out how your yard measures up, the brochure asks you a series of questions. Do you have your soil tested to avoid overfertilizing? Do you mow your grass at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches? Do you mulch beds to conserve water? Do you have a compost pile? All these environmentally sound practices rack up Bay-Wise points.

After you've reviewed your yard, call or e-mail me to ask for a Bay-Wise visit. A team of Master Gardeners will visit your property to review your yardstick results and make suggestions for ways you can improve your gardening techniques to help the Bay.

If your Bay-Wise score is high enough, you will receive a Bay-Wise sign to display with pride in your home landscape. It shows that you care about the environment and the Bay and use smart gardening practices to put your concerns into action.

Would you like to be the first in your neighborhood to be certified as Bay-Wise? Send me a self-addressed stamped envelope addressed to: Bay-Wise, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713. I'll send you a Bay-Wise brochure to get you started.

Six Washington County Master Gardener's home landscapes have already been certified as Bay-Wise demonstration landscapes. Look for the blue Bay-Wise signs in my yard and in the gardens of Cynthia Kennedy, Sharon Bondroff, Karen Greeley, Anne and Bob Courtemanche and Will Godwin.

Nine Master Gardeners have completed the three-day advanced training, which certifies them to review and certify home landscapes. They learned about pollutants, water cycles and fertilizers, well and septic tank management, alternatives to hazardous household products and best landscape management practices.

The Bay-Wise program encourages better water quality through smarter gardening. It reminds us to plant well, fertilize wisely and water efficiently. It teaches us how to best mow, mulch and compost. It shows us how to encourage wildlife, control runoff and manage pests with less toxic controls.

I'm Bay-Wise. Are you?

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