Township Of Morris
Environmental Commission
Newsletter
JUNE 2022
Environmental Commission Awarded $1,000 to Plant Pollinator Garden in Butterworth Park
The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) has awarded an Open Space Stewardship grant to Morris Township.

The $1,000 endowment will be used to plant a small garden of native plants in Butterworth Park, creating a pocket of habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. The garden will be planted and maintained by a volunteer group of neighborhood Garden Stewards, at zero expense to Township taxpayers.

The 200-square-foot garden will demonstrate how monoculture environments, such as cool-season lawn grasses, can be replaced with native plants that promote biodiversity.

The garden will provide the following benefits to the community:
  • Create habitat for insect pollinators by providing food and shelter
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of replacing grass lawns with native plants 
  • Provide education about biodiversity to people of all ages 
  • Visually enhance the park by providing botanical color and variety 
  • Reduce greenhouse emissions and noise from township mowers
  • Improve storm-water mitigation 
  • Build an infectious community of native plant advocates 

Timeline and Future Expansion
Site preparation will begin in Fall 2022, with planting planned for Spring 2023. It is expected that the garden will take 1-2 years to become fully established.

Based on the interests and energies of the neighborhood volunteers, opportunities for enhancement and expansion include increasing the size of the existing garden; adding bat houses, bird houses, and bee hotels; and planting new gardens around the perimeter of Butterworth Park.

The Environmental Commission is also hopeful that other volunteer teams will offer to take on similar pollinator garden projects elsewhere in the Township.
How to "Kill" Your Lawn Video and Handout from Dan Jaffe Wilder
We recently watched a compelling video that should be seen by anyone who has ever considered replacing part (or all) of their lawn with plants that require less care and are better for the environment.

As the Director of Applied Ecology for the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Dan Jaffe Wilder has been experimenting with lawn replacement strategies for several years.

In the video, Dan tells you about different approaches -- from Pennsylvania Sedge grass that's mowed twice yearly, to easily sown white clover, to a matrix of native wildflowers. Dan explains the cost and effort required by each method, as well as the ecological benefits to both generalist and specialist pollinators.

This video is an absolute MUST-SEE for anyone who has any interest in replacing some of their lawn with landscaping that is healthier for the environment -- and friendlier to birds and pollinators.

For easy reference, Dan also created this handout that summarizes the options for Native Lawn Alternative Species.
"A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people."
Let's Stop Using Leaf Blowers During Summer Months
Have you ever noticed someone propelling grass clippings on asphalt or pavement with a gas-powered leaf blower? Is that ever really necessary?

Granted, large piles of grass clippings on the roadway can be hazardous for drivers. But too often landscapers are blowing minor amounts of grass, but major amounts of dirt and dust.

What's the harm of blowing small amounts of grass clippings?
Besides the grass clippings, blowers will kick-up everything from the street surface into the air — including hydrocarbons from gasoline, animal droppings, spores, fungi, pollens, pesticides and herbicides, fertilizers, brake-lining dust and tire residue, and heavy metals.

Gas-powered leaf blowers themselves emit pollutants. Hydrocarbons from both burned and unburned fuel combine with other gases to form ozone; carbon monoxide; and toxic contaminants such as benzene, 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. And then there's the noise pollution.

Let's put away leaf blowers for summer
For those who care for their own properties, please do not blow grass clippings for aesthetics or because that's the way you've always done it. Simply allow the clippings to dry up and blow away.

For those who employ landscapers, please let your service provider know they can stop using a leaf blower to clear minor amounts of grass clippings from sidewalks, driveways, and streets. Let them know that this is your preference.

If you or your landscaper must use a blower during the summer, please think about purchasing an electric-powered model. They emit far less noise and zero emissions.
Six Powerhouse Pollinator Plants for Summer
Bee on Milk Weed
It can be difficult to know which plants offer good value for both your garden needs and for pollinators.

Pollinator-Pathway.org has drawn on research from experts like Heather Holm and the Xerces Society to compile a list of low-maintenance, summer-blooming plants that are highly valuable to pollinators.

Anise Hyssop, Butterfly Weed, Wild Bergamot, Smooth Oxeye, Short-toothed Mountain Mint, and Foxglove Beardtongue are all native to the Northeast. Best of all, these plants should be available in most nurseries. Read the PDF to learn about each powerhouse plant.
Native Plant of the Month: Blue-Eyed Grasses (Iris Family)
You never know what's going to pop up when you disturb soil. Sometimes a native plant will take root, as it did in a Morris Township backyard this summer. Easily mistaken for a small clump of grass, Sisyrinchium is actually a member of the Iris family. Commonly known as Blue-Eyed Grasses, there are nine native species that can be found throughout the Midwest and Northeast.
This is a “grass” in name only. It's a member of the Iris family, with stiff, flattened grass-like foliage that grows in dense, tufted clumps from rhizomes. It grows naturally in low woods, along river and streambanks, seeps, damp meadows, and moist roadsides.
The diminutive flowers of Blue-Eyed Grasses provide an important early spring and summer nectar source for pollinators. Beneficial sweat bees, bumble bees, bee flies, and Syrphid flies are attracted to the nectar and pollen.
The homeowner almost pulled this "weed" as it grew, but then observed the tiny flowers, photographed it, and identified it using a phone app.

Many of the plants we perceive as potential nuisances are, in fact, habitat for wildlife; the key is learning which plants are native and which ones are non-native and potentially invasive.
(Photo Credit: Charlie Schachter, Member, Environmental Commission)
2022 Webinar Series: Eight Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard
Jersey-Friendly Yards is an amazing resource for residents of Morris Township who want a
beautiful and healthy Jersey-Friendly Yard!

This year’s FREE webinar series reminds us that a Jersey-Friendly Yard doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Start small and stick to the basics. Each program in this series ties-to one of the 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard.

Complete descriptions of each webinar can be found here.

Step 1: Plan Before You Plant (View a recording of this webinar)
Step 2: Start with Healthy Soil (View a recording of this webinar)
Step 3: Water Wisely (View a recording of this webinar)
Step 4: Fertilize Less: Rely More on Nature (View a recording of this webinar)
Step 5: Minimize Risks When Managing Pests (Live on June 14 at 7 pm)
Step 6: Lose the Lawn, Create a Wildflower Meadow Instead (Live on July 12 at 7 pm)
Step 7: Create Wildlife Habitat in Your Jersey-Friendly Yard (Live on August 9 at 7 pm)
Step 8: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in the Yard (Date TBD)

If you have any questions about the webinar series or how to register, please contact kwalzer@ocean.edu.
How You Can Help:
Affiliations & Partnerships