Compost to cover the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol building

DES MOINES — The grounds outside the State Capitol building in Des Moines will be covered with a dark-colored compost this week.

Steve Konrady, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the soil quality around the Capitol has deteriorated over time and this restoration project will help reduce runoff and “green up” the lawn.

“This is a demonstration practice…so, we’re showing people who visit the Capitol Terrace that soil quality restoration can be used to both improve your lawn and improve the rate of infiltration of rain water, and you can do it in your own backyard,” Konrady said. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It will help reduce the amount of runoff, which can carry pollutants, into storm sewers that empty into the Des Moines River. The Capitol grounds were aerated last week – prior to the compost being blown on the lawn this week.

“That compost then releases its nutrients – nitrogen, carbon, and others – for the grass to then grow back better and stronger,” Konrady said. “And also, it breaks up the soil profile a little bit and that allows more water to infiltrate through.” It should take about two weeks for the compost to break down into the soil, but other than the odd look to the grounds, people shouldn’t notice anything different when passing by the Capitol.

“A healthy compost isn’t necessarily manure or anything like that. It’s going to have kind of a neutral earthy smell, so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about as far as strong odors coming from the Capitol next week,” Konrady said.

The DNR is planning to showcase its work from the Capitol grounds in a Facebook live video Tuesday (September 12) at 10 a.m.

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