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Compost on Iowa Capitol lawns to help improve soil quality and promote cleaner water

DES MOINES — In a partnership with the DNR and other state agencies to improve soil quality and reduce stormwater runoff on the Iowa Capitol grounds, crews will be applying layers of compost on the State Capitol Terrace lawns the week of Sept. 11. 

The soil quality restoration project will help rainwater better soak into the Capitol lawns, and that reduces the amount of runoff, which can carry pollutants, into storm sewers that empty into the Des Moines River. In addition, the lawn should green up better than before in just a few weeks. 

Crews will be blowing dark-colored compost onto the Capitol lawns to the west of the Capitol building. It should take about two weeks for the compost to break down into the soil and become less noticeable. This process also increases soil health in lawn areas with highly compacted soil or thin topsoil. 

“Soil quality restoration is something that people can do in their own backyards as well to improve the water quality in their neighborhood creek or other local waterbody. It also makes their yard look great, too,” said Steve Konrady with the DNR’s Watershed Improvement Program. “Some communities in Iowa offer assistance to homeowners for this practice, and this Capitol Terrace project is a great opportunity to demonstrate the practice to Iowans, and to work to improve state lands and waters, and cleaner water downstream.”

The project is a partnership effort between the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with technical assistance from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship urban conservation program.

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