about south river federation

Federation Blog

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. 



On behalf of the South River Federation, a big thank you goes out to the 5th Graders of St. Andrews United Methodist day school.

On Tuesday, November 13th, they put in a lot of hardwork at Homestead Gardens. All of them deserve a gold star for a job well done! At the end of the day, they helped plant 150 plants around the new Homestead Gardens Wetland Restoration site! We were thrilled with how much they accomplished!

Not only did they plant trees and shrubs, but also they helped provide habitat for the critters that will make this site their home. The plants chosen for this project have high value to the wildlife in the area. The plants used will take up the pollutants from the water and use them as fertilizer.

One of the last activities of the day, was throwing sticks into the water. That's right, we asked kids to throw sticks! The sticks, logs, trees, and stumps provide resting places and habitat for birds, amphibians, and other wildlife. The 5th graders of St. Andrews did important work and we cannot thank you enough for your help!

Please enjoy the slideshow and check out this link provided by Anne Arundel County Week in Review. 

Each season brings something different to the table. Winter is snow, spring brings rain and flowers, summer is all about pool time and surviving the heat, and then there is fall. Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, it’s starting to cool off, there is crispness in the air, my birthday, and of course the change of colors. Now I may be biased, but I think the East Coast has the best fall colors and that was definitely seen and proven this past Saturday for our Fall Federation Celebration Kayak and Picnic.

We had great weather for a morning exploring Beard’s Creek. If you asked anyone who came last year, it was a much different scene. Last fall, it was a bit windy and participants got a workout kayaking back to the beach against the wind. After that epic adventure, David and Katie of Annapolis Landing in Riva asked if they could host the fall kayak trip the following year and we said of course! This fall, we were tucked away from the wind. Beard’s Creek is a great place to go because it is so shallow near the end. This is great for kayaking because we didn’t have to worry about any boat traffic—we had the whole creek to ourselves. The fall foliage radiated along the creek. There was a great contrast of color with the blue sky above and the yellow, orange, red, and even some purple leaves all around us. The trees were really giving us a show. Beard’s Creek has all these little tributaries to explore branching off of the main creek. Participants saw turtles, an immature bald eagle, wood ducks, and mallards. Beard’s Creek is also known for their beaver and river otter sightings—sadly we did not see any of those critters, but they are out there, so keep your eyes peeled.

During the trip, I was paddling in the back of the group and it was great to see so many people out on the river celebrating this amazing resource we have in our backyard. I shared this day with my sister and her husband and their two friends who were all from out of town. I saw multi-generations in a canoe enjoying the day outside. Friends and neighbors chatting about the leaves, fish, and there was even talk about a haunted Halloween kayak trip. I think I could have spent the entire day on the river. For me, these trips are a way to shut off the phone and enjoy being outside and that is exactly what all of us did.

After two hours of kayaking in and around and under (there was a bridge) Beard’s Creek, we headed back to the marina for lunch. A big thank you goes out to our fabulous sponsors: Starbucks of Edgewater, Dunkin Donuts, SeaWatch International, and DoubleTree Hotel for making the picnic awesome and delicious.

Thank you to Katie and David and the Annapolis Landing Homeowners Association for hosting such a great event! Please enjoy the slideshow of photos!

When the Beckers of Riva decided to go green, they did not add green to their landscape.  They opted to add some extra green to their wallets by doing a home energy audit-- to test for efficiency and identify problem areas, such as air leaks or installation voids.  Sure, there is an initial cost, but according to Nicholas Neboshynsky of Improvement Zone, energy audits seek to identify issues that can be repaired at a cost that can be recouped in 3-5 years.

Reducing energy bills is the main driver for most people to hire companies like Improvement Zone to do energy audits.  With all the available rebates, the initial cost is actually fairly low.  An energy audit costs $400, but the first $300 is subsidized by energy providers such as BGE.  This brings your total down to $100.  But wait, there’s more!  You also get 12 CFL light bulbs, 2 low flow shower heads, and up to 4 low flow aerators. Make sure you are sitting down because it gets even better!  Some energy companies such as BGE, will cover up to 50% of the repair costs to fix the problems identified in the audit.

While each house, new or old, is unique, Improvement Zone said that the following are most common:

·         Air leaking into the basement from unfinished areas and crawl spaces

·         Air leaks from the living space to the attic

·         Air leaks from exterior doors

·         Low insulation in the attic

These problems are identified through a series of tests.  The Blower Door Test determines how much air is leaking out of the house by using a large, powerful fan to depressurize the home.  The infrared thermal image scan camera, which does make you feel like you have superhero powers, seeks out temperature variations in walls which may indicate an area in need of insulation or sealing.  Improvement Zone also tests to be sure gasses are able to leave the house properly along with a watt meter and air quality test.  All of the data collected is compiled, put into a complete report, and given to the homeowner.

Why do an energy audit?  Emily Becker said “It’s a win-win situation because you save energy, save money, and receive incentives from the power companies.”  In Emily’s case, Improvement Zone recommended sealing identified leaks, installing additional insulation in specific areas, along with other small things that can all add up to substantial energy loss.  Luckily, all of these modifications are eligible for the 50% tax credit.  She would have jumped at this opportunity sooner, but did not learn about it until a friend told her.  Clay, an Improvement Zone employee, agreed that not many people know about all the benefits of an energy audit – there needs to be more public education on the benefits. 

Do you want to get an energy audit for your home?  Call Improvement Zone or any other provider in your area.  Improvement Zone recommends scheduling an audit in the summer or winter where the temperature differences between inside and outside are the greatest.


A special thank you to the Beckers for inviting us to their home during their energy audit! Go green at your home? Tell us about it and you could be the next South River Federation’s “Go Green Project of the Month!”