N.J. state dirt push inspired by lawns

Aug. 9, 2006 at 10:42 AM

TRENTON, N.J., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The originator of a campaign to name a New Jersey state dirt has said the failed initiative was inspired by the lawns of state residents.

David Friedman, head of the Ocean County soil-conservation district, said he was inspired to push for downer soil to be named the state dirt by developers who used tightly-packed soil for the lawns of new homes, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Friedman said the soil used by developers is too tight for grass to sink roots deep enough to absorb water from below the dirt, so it requires a great deal more water to keep the lawn healthy. However, since the soil is packed so tightly, much of the water runs off into drains, carrying lawn fertilizer into bodies of water where it creates algae that can be harmful to fish.

Downer soil, however, is spongy and porous in its natural state, allowing it to absorb water and grass roots.

The New Jersey Assembly voted unanimously to make downer, the most common dirt in the state, the official state dirt, but the measure was never even introduced on the Senate floor.

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