To assist Councils to increase their use of compost landscaping products in their operations, the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has developed a Cost/Benefit of Using Recycled Organics in Council Parks and Gardens Operations in NSW guide and benefits calculator.
Why landscape with compost?
Research has shown that surface mulching with compost in landscaped areas associated with local roads (medians, verges and nature strips), footpaths, cycle ways, and parks can:
- reduce the need for irrigation by up to 70%
- hold water and reduce leaching loss, and improves the drought resistance of plants
- reduce soil erosion by more than 90% on slopes of up to 15%
- reduce runoff by more than 70%
- suppress weeds by up to 70-90% and reduces herbicide requirements.
Source: DEC NSW 2003, Life cycle inventory and life cycle assessment of windrow composting systems. Report prepared by Recycled Organics Unit, The University of New South Wales.
The guide provides Councils with an easy-to-use framework to estimate the cost/benefits of including compost and related products into the construction and maintenance of their public parks and gardens as well as identify which areas of their public spaces are best suited to compost usage.
Using composted products also offers a financial benefit to Councils and the calculator helps Councils to evaluate their financial savings not only in terms of material cost but also savings through reduced use of water, fertiliser, herbicide and pesticide.
Penrith City Council, one of the first to volunteer to trial using landscaping products containing compost, identified its three sporting fields as a priority for the trial. Their sporting fields have been affected by heavy use and low rainfall.
Current trials are applying a compost-based top dressing to the fields with the aim of improving turf growth under low rainfall conditions and improving the overall safety of turf surfaces for use by sporting groups.
DEC is closely monitoring their progress and trial results will be available later this year.
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