Neighborhood News Resource

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter Stormwater Tips

Stormwater runoff may seem like a summer concern, but melting snow can wash pollutants into our streams just as rain can. Follow these tips to improve water quality during even the chilliest month.

Salt and Other Deicers
There are steps you can take to minimize the effects of salt and other deicers on streamside vegetation and water quality.
  • Physically remove as much snow as possible to decrease the need for salt.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions for applying salt and don’t use too much - adding more does not make the snow melt faster.
  • Apply any ice-melting products at the beginning of a snow or ice storm. This prevents ice from bonding to the pavement and will ensure that less salt is needed.
  • Once the temperature dips below 15°F, salt is unable to melt the ice. Regular playground sand can be used to increase traction. Be sure to clean sand up properly during thaws since sand can clog storm drains.
Automotive Fluids
If you are winterizing your vehicle at home, designate an area away from storm drains to change automotive fluids. Collect motor oil, antifreeze and other fluids in a secure container and take to an auto shop for recycling. Clean up small spills immediately using an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sand. If you have a car that is leaking or non-functional, place a large pan underneath to catch fluids.

You might not be mowing your lawn in the winter, but many of us are still raking leaves from trees that lose their leaves late in the season. Leaves that are washed into the street can clog storm drains and pollute streams as they decay.
  • If you receive city trash pick-up and have not received leaf collection yet, rake your leaves to the edge of your yard or sidewalk, not into the street. Find out more about leaf collection at
  • Leaves can be placed in your gray Lenny cart or in brown paper yard waste bags. Bag coupons were available in the LiveGreenLexington newsletter that was mailed to your house. If you need more coupons, contact LexCall at 311 or 425-CALL.
Pet Waste
Fido and Fluffy still do their duty in the winter, so picking up pet waste is a year-round activity. Seven of Fayette County's nine watersheds have impaired streams due to bacteria and organic enrichment, which can be caused by pet waste. You can help keep our creeks clean and healthy by bagging pet waste and throwing it away, whether it's in your yard, on a sidewalk or in a park.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Yard Waste Only in the Lenny

Recent rains in Lexington have caused grass and plants to grow once again. And once again, residents are mowing and trimming their lawns, leading to the disposal of clippings and other yard waste.

The city’s Division of Waste Management wants to remind Lexington residents not to place any household waste in their Lenny cart. The city has noticed an increase in household waste and yard waste in plastic bags in Lenny cart collections. The use of plastic bags and other non-compostable items interfere with the composting of yard waste.

“When the yard waste is taken to the compost pad the waste is ground and placed in windrows to start the composting process,” said Esther Moberly, recycling program specialist. “Since plastic and other non organic items don’t decompose, that contaminates the material.”

The correct action is to put grass clippings, leaves, pieces of branches or brush in the Lenny container or to bag your compostable items in paper yard waste bags only. All household waste should be placed in the Herbie container.

The composted yard waste collected by the city from residents is given away, for free, three times per year -- on the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays in April, June and October.

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Mulch is a Tree's Best Friend

What is mulch?  Mulch is any material placed on soil to cover and protect it.  Organic mulch mimics the natural leaf litter found on the forest floor called the humus layer.

The most common types of organic mulch used in landscaping include hardwood bark, wood chips, pine straw and nuggets. Grass clippings are not recommended for use as mulch because they break down quickly and become ‘sour’ during the decomposition process.   

Mulch covering all or a portion of the root zone can significantly enhance growing conditions of trees by slowly releasing nutrients into the soil.  Soil microbial activity also increases as a result of the mulch decaying which further adds to the soil structure.  Earthworms and other small invertebrates take advantage of the improved soil conditions by tunneling through the soil which results in an increase in the amount of oxygen available to the roots.  

The most common practice for using mulch includes spreading it out evenly beyond the dripline of the tree in a saucer shape.

The depth of the mulch should not exceed 1 to 3 inches and avoid piling any mulch on the trunk.

 A common mistake in landscaping is to install too much mulch and leave it piled against the trunk.  Better known as ‘volcano mulching,’ this can lead to problems associated with insects and diseases.   To avoid this problem mulch should be spread out evenly or broadcast around the trunk of the tree.   

Vertical mulching and radial trenching and mulching are other more advanced methods of mulching and are used in urban environments where soil compaction is a problem.   Soil amendments and fertilizer are sometimes added to the mulch in these situations to help stimulate plant health and vigor.        

Benefits of Mulch

  • Retention of soil moisture
  • Reduces competition from weeds and grass
  • Increases soil fertility
  • Improves soil structure
  • Prevents soil compaction and erosion
  • Improved beautification and aesthetics

For more information about proper mulching, visit and click on “How to mulch a tree.”

Mulching around a tree

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Friday, January 4, 2013

The Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic green insect that is killing ash trees in Lexington. It was first discovered in southern Fayette County in 2010 and has since been reported throughout the entire county. All of our native ash trees, including green ash, white ash and blue ash, are susceptible to this exotic pest. The peak of the insect epidemic is predicted to occur over the next few years in Fayette County as the population of the tiny animal continues to rise.   

Adult insects breed during the months of May and June when females lay their eggs on the bark of the tree. When the juvenile insects hatch 10 days later, the larvae tunnel under the bark and feed on the cambium layer. The tunneling by the larvae eventually cuts off the flow of water and nutrients to the foliage resulting in crown thinning. The larvae lay dormant during the winter months and emerge as adults in early May. Signs of the insect include crown thinning and dieback, bark splitting and D-shaped exit holes in the bark up and down the trunk. 

Methods to control the insect have proven effective by applying systemic insecticides during the months of April and May. Homeowners can purchase the insecticides from local stores and mix the insecticide with water and pour directly around the tree for the roots to absorb. Once the insecticide is in the tree, it will move throughout the tree’s vascular system from top to bottom. It is recommended that trees greater than 15 inches in diameter be treated by a professional arborist using the trunk injection system in which the insecticide is injected directly into the tree.     

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in 2002 in the Great Lakes Region of the United States in packaging materials from Asia. The insect has been responsible for killing millions of ash trees throughout their native range.

Efforts to control the spread have been thwarted by the illegal movement of firewood outside the federal quarantine areas. The public is advised not to move firewood in order to prevent the accidental spread of this devastating insect into areas where it is not already present. If you go camping, only use firewood from that location, and never bring firewood home with you.

For more information about the emerald ash borer please visit:

Crown thinning from emerald ash borer damage

Emerald ash borer larvae

Damage to bark from emerald ash borer larvae

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The Benefits of Trees

Have you ever stopped to think about how trees benefit our community? 

Trees provide a myriad of benefits that can be categorized as aesthetic, environmental and socioeconomic. The aesthetic benefits of trees can be the most contentious because the value is based upon personal opinion and is usually expressed monetarily. One person’s value of a tree might be different from another and is based almost entirely on the size, location and species of the tree. For example, a 32-inch diameter red oak in your neighbor’s backyard might be extremely valuable to your neighbor because the tree provides the residence with privacy from everyone else in the neighborhood. The tree may or may not provide you with aesthetic value but it probably does provide you with some environmental benefits.     

The environmental benefits of trees are many: the amount of oxygen trees or forests produce, the amount of water they absorb and the amount of carbon they sequester just to name a few. The oak tree in your neighbor’s yard may provide shade to your home in the summer which helps to reduce your cooling costs even though you don’t pay to help maintain the tree. Trees also filter stormwater runoff and help to conserve soil, along with providing habitat for wildlife. The environmental benefits of trees are too many to discuss in this short article but the most important one is that trees help to sustain life on our planet.

The socioeconomic benefit of trees includes everything from the forest products we use every day to the landscaping we pass by and appreciate in the community. Trees provide jobs to thousands of people in our community alone. The socioeconomic benefits of trees combine the aesthetic and environmental benefits into shaping peoples’ behavior to attract them to areas with trees. For example, research shows people enjoy living in communities that are green and soft as opposed to living in a community with harsh, gray urban infrastructure. People tend to recreate and stay longer in areas with mature tree canopies versus areas that are barren of any form of landscaping.   

Stop and think about all of the benefits trees provide us the next time you pass one in your neighborhood.  

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Beyond Recycling

Remember learning the 3 R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. They are written in that order for a reason. We first try to reduce waste by not creating it, then reusing what we have, and then, of what we have left, recycle as much as possible.

Reducing waste starts at the store. When purchasing, choose items that have less packaging, such as buying items in bulk, instead of in individual sizes. When possible, choose items that are durable or that can be reused, or find other alternatives.  For example, you can read newspapers and magazines online or purchase potato chips in large bulk bags instead of individual sizes.

Reducing the amount of phonebooks, catalogs and junk mail that we all receive at our homes is a simple step that we all can take.  To request that phone books aren’t dropped off at your home, just visit; to stop the delivery of catalogs that you don’t wish to receive anymore, you can visit To stop junk mail is a little more complicated, but there are several options. You can try Catalog Choice, or contact the Direct Marketing Association ( directly, or call (888) 5-OPT-OUT (to stop credit card offers), or even try the new App called Paper Karma:

Reusing is finding other ways to use items instead of throwing them away. There are many opportunities to reuse items these days: utilize rechargeable batteries instead of one-time-use ones; take reusable bags instead of using plastics bags at the grocery; donate items such as books, clothing and furniture to charity; use both sides of paper when printing; and use metal silverware instead of disposable. 

Recycling is the third important part of this process. Whatever you can’t reduce or reuse, consider recycling. This would include recycling items like paper, plastic, glass and cardboard, but also composting food and yards waste. If you live in the Urban Services Area and have city pickup, we have very convenient single-stream recycling and yard waste composting programs.  

For more information about what you can recycle in Lexington, visit You will find information about what you can place in your Rosie, the locations of recycling drop off centers for those who don’t have city services, how to recycle electronics and upcoming events such as paper shred days and composting workshops.
If all these ideas seem like a lot to do, just choose one and start there. Any small change is a good step towards helping our environment and reducing our cost to dispose of materials in a landfill.

 Opt out of phonebooks or recycle when you're finished with them

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Don't FOG Up Your Sewer System

Cooking oil and grease can cause problems if it is poured into toilets, sinks or other sanitary sewer drains. Fats, oil and grease (FOG) solidify in sewer pipes and cause clogs. In your home, FOG buildup can lead to slow running drains, odor issues and even sewer backups. In the city’s sewer lines, FOG buildup can cause blockages that lead to sanitary sewer overflows that discharge raw sewage into streets, yards and creeks.

If you have cooking oil or grease to dispose of, remember that it should not be poured into sinks or other drains. Instead, cooking oil and grease can be poured into a can, cooled and thrown in the trash.

You can learn more about preventing FOG buildup and keeping your sanitary sewer running smoothly at

Sanitary sewer pipe clogged with grease

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