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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Best Practices for Toxic Urban Soils

Build your garden away from existing roads and railways, or build a hedge or fence to reduce windblown contamination from mobile sources and busy streets.

Cover existing soil and walkways with mulch, landscape fabric, stones, or bricks.

Use mulch in your garden beds to reduce dust and soil splash, reduce weed establishment, regulate soil temperature and moisture, and add organic matter.

Use soil amendments to maintain neutral pH, add organic matter, and improve soil structure.
Add topsoil or clean fill from certified soil sources. Your state or local environmental program, extension service, or nursery may be able to recommended safe sources for soil and fill.

Build raised beds or container gardens. Raised beds can be made by simply mounding soil into windrows or by building containers. Sided beds can be made from wood, synthetic wood, stone, concrete block, brick, or naturally rot-resistant woods such as cedar and redwood.

Your state or local city agency may recommend using a water-permeable fabric cover or geotextile as the bottom layer of your raised beds to further reduce exposure to soils of concern.

Practice good habits:

  • Wear gloves, and wash hands after gardening and before eating.
  • Take care not to track dirt from the garden into the house.
  • Wash produce before storing or eating, and teach kids to do so, too.
  • Peel root crops, and remove outer leaves of leafy vegetables.

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