Q. How do I improve my score on the Healthy Yard Assessment?
A. Look for items on the assessment that you are not doing right now. Pick the items that you can easily change first. Then set goals to complete bigger projects.
Q. I have not heard anything about this program in my county. Why?
A. Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities is very new! We are developing more materials and teaching K-State Research and Extension staff about it, but we didn’t want you to have to wait to start learning about making your yard healthy.
Build and Maintain a Healthy Soil
Q. How much does it cost to have my soil tested?
A. Costs vary depending on your county, but typically range from $10-$20 per sample. Sometimes counties have grant dollars to pay for the testing.
Q. Can I purchase a soil testing kit from my local garden center and use it instead of submitting the sample to my local K-State Research and Extension office?
A. Many of the commercially available soil testing kits can provide you with a general range of nutrient levels and pH, but do not provide recommendations about what to do with those results. For example, a kit might tell you that your soil is alkaline. The K-State Soil Testing Laboratory can tell you that the pH is 7.4 and your Extension Agent can provide recommendations on how to lower the pH if necessary.
Q. What is the best type of compost to use?
A. There are many different kinds of compost – your own yard waste can be used or there are many commercially available products. If you use your own, make sure it is “finished” before incorporating it into the soil. For commercial products, look for weed-free labeling.
Right Plant Right Place
Q. Why are invasive plant lists different in every state?
A. Cultural conditions affect the plant’s ability to reproduce and spread. A good example is Miscanthus sinensis, or Maiden grass. In some areas, the weather is just right for the plant to re-seed itself and cause problems. While Maiden grass grows well here, our weather conditions are not preferred so it is not a problem here.
Q. My irrigation system sprays water over the sidewalk, but I adjust it to avoid the sidewalk, it will also miss a large part of my yard. How can this be fixed?
A. You will probably have to make some adjustments to the system. In small areas, such as between the sidewalk and street, a different type of irrigation head can be used. Those areas can also be set to run separately from the larger spray heads. This may be an expensive fix, but think of the water you will save. In some cities and states, these fixes are mandatory.
Q. Where can I buy a rain shut-off device?
A. Start with companies who install and maintain irrigation systems, but typically they are available anywhere that irrigation system parts are sold.
Grasscycle and Compost
Q. Do I have to purchase an expensive commercial bin to start composting?
A. No. You can simply pile leaves, clippings, etc. in a corner of the yard. For those who like a neater approach, build a simple frame to contain the yard waste. Commercial bins help contain the yard waste, and some versions ease the job of turning the compost. A few bins can actually speed the composting process.
Managing Yard Pests
Stormwater Runoff and Pollution/Water Quality
Q. Is it okay to plant groundcover in-between the flagstones of my sidewalk?
A. Yes! The plants will help break up the water flow over the flagstones, and help absorb water so it does not flow into the storm drain.
Songbirds and Butterflies
Q. If I attract birds and butterflies to my yard, will that attract other (unwanted) wildlife?
A. You should always keep in mind possible unwanted effects when feeding any wildlife. Raccoons, opossums, and even skunks could make homes in areas with dense vegetation. That is one reason that we recommend using plants to provide food and shelter.