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September 2013
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Pay Attention to Falling Objects

Lovely to look at as they drift from the trees, autumn leaves left to accumulate on the ground can have negative effects on the health of Hampton Roads waterways. Street flooding, litter "dams" and algae growth can occur when leaves block or enter the storm drain. To combat such consequences, the message from is clear: keep leaves and yard debris out of the storm drains. Hampton Roads localities service an average of 45,000 catch basins annually.


Here's what happens when fallen leaves are left untended: 

  • Leaves that fall to the ground inevitably accumulate at the mouth of stormwater drains and ditches, causing "dams" that capture both leaves and litter
  • These pollutants then clog up the storm drains and ditches causing street and yard flooding (even with light or moderate rainfall)
  • Once the leaves that enter the storm drain begin to decay, they release nutrients that contribute to excess algae growth in the waterways
  • Algae growth uses up dissolved oxygen needed by fish and crabs and can result in a decline in their populations
So do the right thing to keep our storm drains free and our waterways clear:
  • Clean up your leaves and yard debris
  • Check with your locality to learn when leaves will be collected and how they should be stored (bagging, placement, etc.) and only place leaves and yard debris out at the designated time 
  • Do not rake or blow leaves into the street where they can be washed into the storm drain
  • Rake leaves out of the ditches and storm drains
  • Consider using the leaves as mulch, mowing over them and leaving the finely-chopped debris on your yard
  • If you choose to compost your leaves, contain your compost in a bin
  • Never dump leaves or yard debris into ditches, streams, or other waterways 
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Celebrating Our Furry Friends

September is Responsible Dog Ownership month and what better way to celebrate than by greening up your pet care practices. Check out these easy ways you can be a responsible caretaker for your dog and Mother Nature:
Scoop the Poop Every Time. Whether you are in your backyard or a shared green space, always scoop the poop. Animal waste is a significant source of nitrogen and bacteria in our local waterways. Excess nitrogen and bacteria cause public health threats and green, foul-smelling water.
Bag it. Be even greener and reuse plastic bags for 'scooping.' Tie the bags to the leash and keep a few in the car so you're always prepared to be green when nature calls.

Ditch the Lawn Care Chemicals. Dogs love to roll in the grass and play outside. Rethink what lawn chemicals you use and eliminate herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer use whenever possible. Even when kept away from the treated areas until dry, dogs can ingest the chemicals and track them into your home. Plus, they can make Fido sick or cause long term health issues.
Pet food
Homemade Pet Food. Try your hand at making dinner for your dog. Homemade dog food reduces packaging waste and is a healthy option for your best friend. You can even use locally grown or organic veggies to make it greener. Does the DIY approach sound a little ambitious? Then only purchase foods in recyclable containers or find locally-made dog foods to do your part.
Green Toys. Look for creative ways to reuse items as dog toys like wrapping an empty water bottle in an old t-shirt to create a fun, crinkly toy. You can also find toys made with recycled content at local pet supply stores.
Donate, Don't Dispose. Do you find yourself throwing out used dog supplies in favor of the hottest new products? If so, make sure those collars, leashes and beds get donated to a local animal shelter or animal rescue. They are always in need of supplies and it will keep usable products out of our landfills.

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Fall Landscaping Tips

Start planning now for that beautiful spring landscape! Fall is the perfect time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials or bulbs. Keep these tips in mind during your autumn planting spree:

  • Soil Testing & Prep - The fall is the best time to test your soil and it is recommended you do it every three years. Adding the recommended amendments/organic matter (compost/manure) to the soil in the fall gives it ample time to work itself in and penetrate down to plant roots. Do this now and come spring, you'll have soil that is ready to nourish your plants and much less work to do!
  • Watering - The cooler temps of the season reduce watering requirements. After that initial deep watering, Mother Nature will often take over. If it doesn't rain, give plants a good drink approximately once a week.
  • Mulching - Top the dressing around the base of the plant with mulch (it helps with moisture, temperature and weed prevention). If you choose organic mulch (shredded leaves, pine straw) you'll get the added benefit of decay.
  • Planting Trees - Fall is an ideal time to plant trees. When weather conditions are cool, they can establish healthy roots in their new location before rain in the spring and warmer temps in the summer stimulate new growth on top. Choose native trees (Willow Oak, Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, to name a few) that will be beautiful, low-maintenance, well-adapted additions to your landscape.
  • Big Picture Planning - A healthy landscape takes planning. The Water Wise Landscaping Guide will help you to plan and design a water-wise yard that will be perfect for your own individual use and good for the environment, too.

Want to be a good neighbor?


Do your part by keeping yard debris out of the street. Follow your locality's collection schedule and pickup requirements. Make sure trash bins are covered and oil leaks get fixed straight away. Oh, and scooping your dog's poop? It's always appreciated!

Learn about all things
good for you at is a public awareness program of the 16 cities and counties of Hampton Roads administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC). Members include the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg; the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD).