about south river federation

What do you do with that large grassy area that no one uses and is annoying to mow?  Turn it into a forest!  That’s just what the Segelhorsts of Gambrills did!

John Segelhorst met Lara Mulvaney, a Master Watershed Steward, through their sons’ boy scout troop.  They talked about how he was spending a lot time to maintain an unused portion of his lawn.  Lara suggested that he return the grass to the woods.  Since it was fall and a great time to plant, that’s just what he did!

Lara and John quickly got to work.  Armed with a Watershed Stewards Mini Grant from the South River Federation, the duo were able to extend the project even further selecting over 70 native trees and a selection of ferns.  Additionally, by getting free woodchips from the Naval Academy, the Segelhorsts were able to spend even more funds on the trees.

A project like this may seem daunting, but John had a good team on his side.  He used the expertise of the Master Watershed Stewards to select the plants and called in Severn Grove Landscaping to do the planting and place the mulch.  According to John, “the way we did it was great, got a crew for the whole day for a fixed price. We were able to do whole job at reasonable price with WSA’s connections plus grants.”

Why did the Segelhorst decide to do this?  They had a large, unused, lawn that collected stormwater runoff from a neighbor’s property.  There was lots of ponding and the grass just looked bad, not to mention the runoff was bad for the Bay. In the end, the new wooded area handled the recent rain storms just fine!

By reducing his lawn and converting it woodland, John now has almost a half acre less of grass to mow. Lara added that by not mowing as much, he is also reducing pollution and the amount of money he would spend maintaining it.  Like John said, extending the woods “just looks nice” in an area where it doesn’t make sense to have a lawn.  Plus, his neighbors all thought it looked great!

If you’re considering doing the same thing at your home, here is some advice:  Target the area of your lawn that you do not use first.  If you have an existing wooded area, start there.  It is easiest to extend an existing wooded area.  Start with a few big trees and over time connect trees, extend the area, and add smaller plants. Lara suggested “stacking” – place larger trees in the corner of your lot or next to an existing wooded area. Then, plant smaller trees and work your way down to shrubs.  This softens the area and gives it a natural look.

John warns to be careful with your calculations – it’s easy to under estimate just how much mulch or how many trees you may need.  If you plant in the fall, patience is a virtue.  Your “stick farm” will look much nicer in the spring.  John has lived in his home for 20 years and wishes he would have done this sooner.  Last but not least, don’t do it alone!  Go to www.aawsa.org and contact the Watershed Steward nearest you or contact the South River Federation for guidance.