From landscaping to naturescaping, this Quality Parks Master Naturalist certification makes you more aware of the natural environment and regional priories in protecting the Peconic Estuary and other coastal waters.
Complete 20 hours of Landscape Service on Long Island, with 4 hours in each priority area below:
Being Sensible about Fertilizers & Pesticides, and Wastewater Treatment
Nutrient Pollution Sources and Means of Reduction (specifically nitrogen)
Humans are the source of most nutrients that cause pollution.
- Sources of nutrient pollution include inadequate sewerage systems, agricultural/lawn runoff, and pet waste. Other sources include imbalances in wildlife populations (such as overfeeding of waterfowl), point source pollution vs. non-point sources. Nitrogen is a prevalent nutrient pollutant, commonly found in fertilizers and human waste (especially urine). Phosphorus is another commonly used fertilizer. Review the nitrogen runoff to algal blooms to oxygen depletion to environmental impacts (fish kills, marine mortality, shellfish poisoning) in coastal waters.
- Methods for both large-scale (community level) and small-scale (homeowner level) reduction of nutrient pollution exist. Understand cesspool/septic system structure, functioning, upgrade, and maintenance. Compare aerobic to anaerobic treatment of waste, and alternatives to sewers and toilets. Oxygen depletion in the shellfish beds caused by algal blooms because of nitrogen runoff. Overhauling and upgrading septic systems cesspools to actual septic systems-complete with "Coffins" and overflow pools, will reduce nitrogen runoff, improving water quality in the water table, the river, the bay.Note: Upgrading existing development to county standards set in 1978 will not affect urine discharge;upgrading should be to de-nitrification systems, artificially constructed wetlands.
- Different classes of pesticides (herbicides, fungicides), proper usage, effects and side effects. Substituting green (ethically valued) alternatives. Fire and clean topsoil, citrus oil applications as part a restoration approach on homeowner properties to mitigate invasive weed seeds and weeds. Site specific plant selection to mitigate the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Targeted pest management with organic principals. Understanding insects: the good, the bad, and ugly. Use of slow release fertilizers, organic manure tea, seaweed fertilizer... mulching... etc.
Nutrient pollution causes disruption in the natural processes of the Peconic Estuary
- Planning for preventing nutrient pollution in the Peconic must take into account topography and water flows within the watershed. (development around headwaters of creeks, etc., leads to nutrient loading, residence time of water in Flanders Bay is 70 days)
- The federal limit for nitrogen in drinking water is 10 milligrams per liter (the ecological limit triggering algal blooms, etc., is 0.5 mg/l; county test wells consistently show a level around 17-18 mg/l in the Peconic Estuary)
- Brown, red, and other toxic tides caused by pollution and rising temperatures. (Other conditions such as wind speed also play a role.)
Adapting your Garden Space to Cope with Climate Change
Mitigate Climate Change and Sea Level Rise (resiliency)
Climate change is happening; ways of living with it must be developed.
- Importance of allowing water to inflow as naturally as possible (compacted soil and lawns don’t absorb water; climate change has led to heavy downpours as opposed to gentler rains; high tides and storm surges are more easily absorbed by wetlands than by hardened structures like bulkheads which also create reflective wave energy; warming waters lead to stronger storms; buffer zones of transitional shoreline vegetation and habitat are critical to healthy bay and estuary)
- Excessive stormwater runoff is not being allowed to enter the water cycle rapidly enough due to manmade infrastructures (permeable and semi-permeable pavement for driveways, parking lots; add bioswales to roadsides to help mitigate excessive stormwater runoff.)
- We will again speak about climate change and sea-level rise and how salt entering the water table will change which plants will be able to survive in certain habitats.
Individual choices can mitigate the effects of sea level rise.
- Planning to prevent saltwater intrusion.(know where the water table is for a given project, especially cesspool placement (salt water is more dense than freshwater, and will push it up from beneath; know where groundwater is in relation to salt water; regulations require leaching pools be a minimum of 3 feet over the water table in order to filter out bacterial contaminants)
- Planning for erosion, especially caused by storms/sea level rise. (green versus gray versus hybrid infrastructure; buffer zones must be allowed to migrate inland in response to surface water expansion)
- How to work with specialized landscapes (landscapes with buildings that are raised, as in Mastic Village; what to plant in a salt marsh environment or a freshwater environment as a landscaper. Use Facultative and Obligate wetland native plant species.) How sea-level rise and how salt entering the water table will change plant communities; knowing which plants will be able to survive in certain habitats.
From Lawns to Naturescapes
Preserving and Restoring Landscapes
Long Island’s heritage of working farms and natural lands in the Peconic Estuary are a valuable endowment.
- Review which plants for which areas, focusing on freshwater wetlands, salt- and brackish-water wetlands, upland field, and forest/woods with a few plant/tree examples for each. All in all, you must remove invasive species that can disrupt and overtake natural systems and naturescapes. Just because it’s native doesn’t mean it can do without initial watering; plant size, installation and timing methods).
- Think about what are the right plants are for right landscape and soil types, appreciating the beauty of a well-designed nature landscapes counter to lawns. How to begin to integrate natural landscapes into lawns. Compare maintenance of a lawn and ornamental landscapes with maintenance of natural landscapes, water requirements of landscaping elements.
- Various approaches to restoration, from high tech to softer approaches to designs (cost issues: upfront and over time; when restoring shoreline from bulkhead work from behind to establish native vegetation and from in front, if possible, to establish spartina salt marsh grass).
- Various approaches to preservation (direct purchase, protection easements, zoning, trading development rights, transfer property sale fees for preservation purchases, land trusts; leaving portions wild or less managed by creating wildlife habitat (dealing with invasive species issues)
- Long Island Habitats and Ecosystems Prepared by Chris Duffner For Quality Parks Master Naturalist Program.
- East End Volunteers Attack Invasive Plants in the Peconic Bay
Soaking up the Rain with Native Gardens that Benefit Bees and Pollinators
Stormwater Runoff Reduction via Green Infrastructure Techniques
What is Green Infrastructure?
- Green Infrastructures are natural areas including: freshwater wetlands, woodlands, dunes, bluffs, salt marsh, forested uplands, coastal forests, etc. Creating naturescapes and rain gardens are based on these natural areas.
Stormwater pollution can be prevented with green infrastructure techniques.
- Understand different types of floodwater runoff, such as sheet flow with respect to topography and corresponding volume flow. Learn about natural ways to prevent runoff, such as bioswales, re-grading and rain gardens. Special care should be taken with preventing runoff from temporary conditions such as construction sites by preparing Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans. Compare permeability between large-scale roads and parking lots versus small-scale infrastructure (driveways). Permeable and semi-permeable are alternatives to asphalt. Consider the use and applicability of green roofs (for flat and gentle roofs) and green walls that mimic natural systems.
The best way to “treat” stormwater is naturally, by creating the conditions that allow it to be filtered by sand and soil before re-entering waterways and aquifers.
- Different types of wastewater: greywater, stormwater, etc. (wastewater ponds/gardens). Hybrid approaches that combine storm drain technologies with green infrastructure techniques, like filtering drainage systems, also see “biofiltration.”
- Naturescaping & Bayscaping are sustainable landscaping practices that protect and enhance water quality and wildlife habitat. Reduce lawn by expanding natural areas and pathways. Work backward from the water’s edge.
- Minimize turf, use native plants, and reduce fertilizers/pesticides for eco-friendly recharge into the groundwater. Slow release fertilizers and what over-fertilizing means to coastal waters. Invasive plant species and how to remove them without using pesticides. Best management practices for pollinator plants.
- Peconic Estuary Program’s 2001 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP)
- Nutrient Pollution
- Evolution of the Septic System
- Field trip to the Riverhead Scavenger Waste plant. (See also Phase I - Pilot Study)
- Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant Wastewater Reuse for SC Indian Island Golf Course Irrigation
- Plan for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment In the LI Sound Watershed, North Fork, NY, by Glynis M. Berry
- Publications by Christopher J. Gobler, SUNY/Stony Brook School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
- Preserving & Restoring Landscapes
- Native Species Planting Guide (pdf) - NYC Parks
- Sound Gardening from Long Island Sound Study (similar sites: Snohomish County/Puget Sound, and the Chesapeake Bay)
- Lawn care resources from the _Long Island Neighborhood Network: 4 Steps to a Toxic-Free Lawn
- Creating and registering a Certified Wildlife Habitat (National Wildlife Federation)
- Naturescaping resources and references http://www.bringingnaturehome.net/ , https://www.wildflower.org/plants/combo.php?distribution=NY&habit=&duration=
- Principles of Sustainable Landscaping from the Landscaping Network
- A free webinar series on the benefits of sustainable landscape design and SITES certification from the Sustainable SITES Initiative
- Lawn alternatives from Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes by Janet Hall, Gardenista and Eartheasy
- Community Preservation Fund/Peconic Land Trust
- Climate Change/Resilience
- Alison Branco, Peconic Estuary Program Director
- Annelies Kamran, Quaility Parks Master Naturalist - Curriculum Coordinator
- Gary Gentile, Senior Landscape Architect, L. K. McLean Associates
- Jane Fasullo, Long Island Sierra Club
- Joy Cirigliano, Joy’s Forever Endeavor
- Kevin McAllister, Defend H2O
- Mindy Block, Quality Parks