OUR APPROACH TO VEGETATION MANAGEMENT
Stormwater structures have different vegetation types depending on their design and function. I will discuss a few vegetation types and follow with some tips on maintaining that vegetation in order to keep your structure protected.
The most common vegetation type is simple turfgrass such as Bermuda grass or St. Augustine. Turfgrass spreads out and intertwines making a thick mat over the soil, protecting slopes and other areas from erosion. Frequent mowing encourages growth horizontally. When mowing, you should only take 1/3 of the height of the vegetation. Look at it this way, there are the roots, body and the blades of a grass plant, three parts. When you cut grass too short you are damaging the body and exposing the roots to damage. Only taking 1/3 of the height will keep enough plant mass to continue growth, protect the roots and shade the soil during hot or dry times. Frequent mowing also discourages weeds and woody plants that may be unsightly.
Let’s talk about the amendments needed in a turfgrass structure. Biannual fertilizer applications may be necessary after a proper soil test. In structures or areas with more vehicle or foot traffic, proper fertilization will ensure a healthy turf and faster regrowth after damage. Aeration uses spikes or tubes to puncture the soil surface and allow more oxygen into the root zone. Aeration encourages root growth and is often necessary in expansive clay soils that make up a majority of south Texas. Weed infestation is a sign of poor nutrient availability, managing fertilizer applications and frequent mowing will detain those infestations.
Other stormwater structures can be designed with larger bunch grasses. These are often seen when structures are associated with the general landscape and not necessarily turf areas. Bunch grasses grow in single clumps and the only spreading they do is leaf mass at the base of the plant. Many of the same techniques apply with bunch grasses. When cutting, only take a 1/3 of the plant mass. Bunch grasses should be maintained as to keep water flowing around them and to prevent old growth material to clog outlet piping and trash racks. Often, bunch grasses are used in the landscape to target nutrients that are in stormwater. Proper soil testing and fertilization is still an important task in order to keep plants healthy.
Trees and other woody species are less often used in specific stormwater applications but can still be an important tool in erosion control. Trees that are very leafy and produce a lot of shade should be trimmed annually to prevent over shading turfgrass. Trees naturally shed limbs and branches as they shade themselves out. Maintaining trees often will help remove that material and keep it from clogging outlets and drains. Excess falling leaf material can shade out turfgrass and release the tree’s oils which can stunt or kill surrounding vegetation. Large trees and their root systems can damage concrete structures, underground components and liner material. Therefore, trees have their place in stormwater structures but should be managed actively and placed accordingly.
Managing fertilization of vegetation can be a daunting task but understanding the basics will help smooth out the process. Nutrient availability determines many things such as water use, re-growth, plant density and disturbance tolerance. Providing proper nutrition will help sustain your vegetation through large rain events and blistering summer droughts.
The most important task before dusting off the spreader is to perform a soil test. Soil tests are inexpensive and do not take a long time to perform. Local labs and regional universities offer soil testing services. Testing your soil will help you identify 3 important parameters: soil type, nutrient availability and soil pH. Knowing the soil type is an indicator of how the soil will drain which will determine how fast or slow nutrients can be held in the soil for plant use. Nutrient availability will identify what nutrients are there and give you an idea of what to add. Finally, soil pH is also a major factor in determining fertilizer requirements as you may have to treat the soil the change the pH for the desired vegetation.
After you have done a soil test, you can select your vegetation type. Grasses, shrubs and trees all will require different levels and types of nutrients so closely review those requirements and recommendations for the parameters, soil type, nutrient composition and soil pH. Now, let’s fertilize the soil for your new plantings or existing vegetation. Fertilizer is often formulated in a ratio of 3 parts, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium or NPK for short. On a bag of fertilizer, it will have a line of 3 numbers, similar to 10-15-5, that is the ratio of NPK. Using the soil test and your desired vegetation requirements, select the proper formulation to remedy your soils. Most garden supply centers can also decipher the soil test requirements as well. Using the soil test again, there may be requirements to change the pH of your soil, in which there are certain amendments to achieve this.
Fertilizer can be applied in granules, or as a water-soluble mixture that is sprayed above ground or injected into the soil. When applying fertilizer, do not expect immediate results to poor conditions. Granule fertilizers can take up to 6 months to break down into usable nutrients by plants. Water-soluble formulations often have a more rapid affect, with results showing within a month but not lasting as long as granules. Amendments to change the soil pH are equally slow, again large changes in pH can take up to 2 years to occur. These reasons above show that a scheduled fertilization every 6 months over time will provide proper and adequate nutrition for your vegetation.
Stormwater Ponds pose a special problem for owners. Mowing slopes is much different than mowing flat ground, and requires specific equipment in order to prevent slope erosion and eventual failure requiring a costly pond remodel. We specialize in pond maintenance and take care in protecting your investment while keeping costs in check.
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THE HIGHEST COMPLIANCE AT THE LOWEST COST
Given the changing nuances of enforcement, the growing tangle of overlapping enforcement agencies and the stiff consequences for non-compliance, our SWQM services business exists to serve Operators and Owners in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Ft Worth, by implementing a set of compliance services that cover all facets of SWQM compliance.
eBook – You’ve Received a Re-Permit Notice, What Next?
Learn what to do next if you have received a Notice of Stormwater Quality Requirements for your property. Harris County and the City of Houston each have a set of regulations regarding the post-construction stormwater management obligations that must be met by property owners.
- Determine if your property is in permitable condition
- Issues that must be resolved prior to re-permit
- Professional Engineer Certification
- How to avoid the cost of non-compliance
With an understanding of your requirements as a property owner or manager, this guide will go a long way towards insuring your property is compliant with stormwater quality regulations.
Get Your Stormwater Quality Permit Status Report
Stormwater quality permits are valid for 1 year and therefore require annual renewal. Fill out the form to the left and find out now if you are out of compliance and at risk of costly fines. By providing your property information we will provide you with:
- Your compliance status
- When your property is due for re-permit
- Re-Permitting Guide For Property Owners & Managers
If the Stormwater Quality Permit (SWQ) permit is not renewed annually as required, and/or the stormwater quality feature is not inspected and maintained according to the SWQMP, the property Owner is out of compliance and will be subject to fines. Trust us to help keep your property in compliance.
SWQM: Why Care?
Stormwater Quality (SWQ) permitting regulations exist to improve water quality and to minimize negative impacts of development on our watersheds. Without these programs, the effects that a growing community creates would have a devastating impact on our region’s already impaired rivers, streams and bayous. Counties and cities each have their own set of regulations regarding the post-construction stormwater management obligations that must be met by property owners.
When incorporating the specifics of SWQ regulatory requirements into the design of a development, the civil engineer calculates the volume of water to be treated, creates a Stormwater Quality Management Plan SWQ and selects a stormwater quality treatment feature to fit the needs of the site. The resulting design must be approved by County or City engineers and a Stormwater Quality Permit is issued to the Owner of the property.
All of this happens before construction is permitted or commenced. On occasion, the SWQ permit and the SWQMP which guides compliance; are details the property Owner or Manager may not be fully aware of. If the SWQ permit is not renewed annually as required, and/or the stormwater quality feature is not inspected and maintained according to the SWQMP, the property Owner is out of compliance and will be subject to fines.
Some may see stormwater management as just another unnecessary and unwanted cost to construction projects or property ownership and management. But, understanding the negative effects that poor or no stormwater management is causing should be a concern to us all. It affects where we live and play. It affects our marine-based food supply. It affects our dwindling water supply.
We care. It is why we do what we do.
Why Choose Us?
Established in 2002, we provide our clients a proven, systematic approach and a reliable experienced team that can take all compliance logistical burdens off your shoulders. What could make your life simpler? One call. One point of contact. New project launches simplified. Compliance simplified. Compliance assured.
Other key reasons to choose us:
- We provide the most appropriate, cost-effective, and innovative solutions
- Our experience and expertise is the fundamental “product” our clients buy
- We focus on our customer’s success
- Our high degree of integrity
- Our ability to customize and problem solve
- All our field crew are OSHA 30
- We are agents of stormwater change
If achieving the highest level of compliance while reducing risk and lowering costs is important to you, then let’s work together. We provide full turnkey stormwater management consulting and solutions. All field crew are OSHA 30 certified.
Tell us about your project and get a quick quote.