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story.lead_photo.caption MU Extension is hosting virtual classes to help prevent runoff from lawns from polluting creeks. Photo by Olivia Garrett / Fulton Sun.

University of Missouri Extension will offer a series of Zoom classes on environmentally responsible landscape practices for lawn and garden enthusiasts beginning May 18.

The "Healthy Yards for Clear Streams" series will teach homeowners how to keep lawn fertilizers and pesticides from entering streams.

"People think that pollution comes out of the end of a pipe, but they don't realize all the rest," MU Extension state forester Hank Stelzer said.

When it rains, fertilizers and pesticides used in yards are washed into nearby water.

"It's going to go in our creeks and streams and our small ponds," Stelzer said.

Not only can this runoff cause unpleasant algal bloom, it can also be harmful to aquatic life. This is what the course hopes to prevent.

"It's a way of looking at landscaping and putting it through the lens of reducing levels of chemical usage," Stelzer said.

The courses seven life sessions will be every Monday and Thursday evening, except for Memorial Day, through June 11.

"The end result is a beautiful yard that also helps protect water quality," Stelzer said in a news release. "The program's goal is to promote practices that create beautiful lawns, gardens and landscapes while reducing unnecessary use of pesticides and fertilizers that may run off and contaminate local streams and water bodies."

Sessions will focus on healthy soils, choosing appropriate plant species, basic lawn care, the differences among gardens, flower beds and groundcovers, basic tree care, pest management and sustainable landscaping.

Stelzer will facilitate the course with MU Extension horticulture field specialist Debi Kelly. Each session will feature additional instructors.

Stelzer said MU Extension chose a Zoom format for the course so people from all over the state can participate.

"In urban areas and large communities they are liking this — it's not just a canned, taped thing," Stelzer said.

Registration for the course costs $25. More information can be found at extension2.missouri.edu/healthy-yards-for-clear-streams-2020.

"Master Gardeners use this as advanced training hours, but it's simple enough that anyone can follow along," Stelzer said.

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