By Barbara Bailey, Community Engagement Coordinator Master Gardener Coordinator Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County
Last September, Loudoun Extension Master Gardener Cynthia Falconer spearheaded a cost share grant project, Virginia Trees for Clean Water, awarded by the VA Dept. of Forestry, for her Potomac Green HOA common area.
The objective was to convert sections of turf to mulched beds with native trees and ground cover, thereby reducing runoff and nutrients flowing into Russell Branch Creek, which runs through the property, and reducing in-stream sediment. The trees will also shade a 600-foot section of the community trail system and provide an object lesson in the benefits of trees to community members.
An HOA Town Hall was organized to promote the project. Loudoun EMGs Sally London and Mo Page hosted a VCE Loudoun County Master Gardener information table and Becky Hutchings hosted a Spotted Lanternfly table, and a Plant Nova Natives table rounded out the preprogram speakers Jim McGlone, VDOF, and Doug Tallamy, noted author, entomologist and conservationist.
Potomac Green HOA removed 1,400 square feet of turf on April 19th and replaced it with a total of 22 native tree species: white oak, swamp white oak, scarlet oak, yellow poplar, and black cherry. Educational information is housed in realtor boxes at either end of the trail with two-sided fact sheets created by Loudoun EMG Sharon Perryman.
Impact: HOA residents learned about native plants, wildlife supported by the native plants, buffers to support stormwater runoff, soil health, reducing ambient heat, and cleaning the air. Environmental Stewardship at the forefront to keep the Chesapeake Bay Watershed healthy.