Problem

Many of our urban soils lost their natural layer of topsoil or were compacted during development. These unhealthy, compacted soils cannot maintain healthy plants or infiltrate large amounts of rainfall the way a native landscape would do. Since these soils cannot retain water and lack nutrients, homeowners end up using excessive water and fertilizer to grow plants and grass. The result is that unhealthy soils create lots of nutrient-laden runoff that goes directly to Ellerbe Creek, causing flooding and stream bank erosion.

Healthy Soil

Healthy Soil
Image source: Animalia Project

Solution

Consider converting at least 20% of your yard to a more natural landscape to help protect the creek. Start by building new topsoil that can support native plants or a beautiful garden for you to enjoy. A healthy forest soil has up to 50% air, so just 1,000 square feet (a 33x33 foot area) of a healthy, 6-inch deep soil can store over 1,500 gallons of water. Having a diversity of plants, specifically native plants and trees, helps build healthy soil and provides biodiversity for wildlife and pollinators. Using no or minimal fertilizer allows soil organisms to break down leaves and other organic matter, creating healthier soil which provides nutrients for plants and holds water naturally for dry times.

Native garden with lawn

Native garden with lawn
Image source: ECWA