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Low Impact Landscapes with Caroline Toole of Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance

This morning, Caroline Toole, of the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance (LOWA), came all the way from Climax Springs to Waynesville, just teach a class about the principles of low impact landscaping.

Caroline Toole, LOWA
Caroline Toole, LOWA

Caroline is the project manager for LOWA, an organization formed by a group of proactive residents  to protect and preserve the Lake of the Ozarks and its watershed.  (Their website is  According to LOWA, “[a] watershed is an area of land where the runoff from rain and snow will ultimately drain to a particular stream, river, wetland, or other body of water.  Healthy watersheds provide plentiful drinking water supplies, habitat for fish and wildlife, and water for irrigation, industry, or recreation activities. Without clean water supplies, our society would be radically changed from what it is today.”

The Waynesville, Missouri area is in the Upper Gasconade Watershed.  Information about this watershed can be found here.

Low impact landscapes (LILs) are measures individuals can take on their own properties to reduce the amount of runoff reaching bodies of water within their local watershed.  Some basic LILs that homeowners can implement on their properties include:

1)  Vegetated buffer strips, which are are rows of native perennial plants that are placed in such a way as to intercept storm water runoff before it goes into the watershed.

Example of Vegetative Buffer Photo by LOWA
Example of Vegetative Buffer Photo by LOWA

2)  Rain gardens, which are depressions dug into the ground to catch runoff and allow that runoff to slowly soak into the ground.  Native plants are often the plants of choice in a rain garden because they are adapted to Missouri’s soils and climate, they are low maintenance, they attract wildlife, they solve landscape problems, and they protect and enhance biodiversity.  For excellent information on Missouri natives, check out these sites: Missouri Wildflowers; Missouri Wildflower Guide; MO Extension Publication; Grow Native, and MO Department of Conservation Info.

3)  Compost socks are mesh tubes about three feet in length that are filled with a growing medium.  These tubes can be used as a retaining wall.  You can put plants right into the socks and create a living wall in your garden!  Once the plants are established, the compost socks become beautiful, permanent, low maintenance additions to the landscape.

Grow Sock Demo Site - Photo by LOWA
Grow Sock Demo Site – Photo by LOWA

4) Before a homeowner gets planting, a soil test should be done to see whether any fertilizer is needed, and if so, how much and what kind needs to be applied.  Applying fertilizes based on the results of a soil test helps prevent excess fertilizer from entering the local watershed.  For more information on soil testing, call your local extension center or see these MU Extension publications.

Caroline’s class included a practical exercise.  The group evaluated the problem hillside in our demonstration garden:

Our Hillside
Hillside in Pulaski County Demonstration Garden


The Class: Taking It All In
The Class: Taking It All In
Team A at Work
Team A at Work
Team B - Working on Their Plan
Team B – Working on Their Plan

Caroline’s presentation was very informative, fun, and interesting.  Thank you, Caroline!

MG Carrie Williamson

Sheet Composting in the Cold – Not for the Faint of Heart!

February 8, 2014 was a chilly day in Waynesville, Missouri.  Snow was on the ground and the below-freezing temperature just wouldn’t budge.

A few brave souls ventured out into what is to become the new Master Gardener demonstration kitchen garden and started a sheet composting project.  We gathered up some cardboard, pulled off the tape, and then put the cardboard on the ground, overlapping the edges about six inches.

WP_000956Preparing the Cardboard

Cardboard Layer Going Down
The Cardboard Layer Going Down

We have several straw bales gathered from fall displays around town and the plan was to spread the straw over the cardboard.  The bales, however, were so frozen that we did not get too far!

To Be Continued!
To Be Continued!




Here’s a shot of the garden area a week later:

The snow went away but it still was not above freezing; once again it was too cold to work.

We have a presentation on sheet composting scheduled for March 1, 2014. Weather permitting, we’ll get out into the garden and try again!