Yard Savvy

Green Your Grass, Not Your Lakes

Yard Savvy

Don’t fertilize before you test your soil

Fertilizers: Lawn fertilizers are a source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. When you are maintaining your lawn and garden, start by testing the soil. You may find you don’t even need additional nutrients.

If you do need to fertilize, look for low nitrogen and phosphorus options. You can check fertilizer bags to see the N-P-K (Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium) nutrient analysis.

You can also look for a slow-release fertilizer, which releases small amounts of nutrients over time to ensure proper absorption. Liquid fertilizer on the other hand quickly infiltrates groundwater during waterings or rainstorms.

Irrigation: Other tips include watering lawns less and only watering in the mornings. Overwatering can cause excess runoff that carries pollutants like phosphorus with it.

A household way to improve water qualityYard Strategy: Check out this brochure on rain gardens to learn how you can strategically set-up your yard to catch rain runoff and reduce stormwater pollution, while looking great! Placing rain gardens in low areas of the lawn helps increase infiltration and decrease runoff.

Planting trees can also help reduce run-off into rivers and lakes, and also help keep our air cleaner. You can also let your grass grow a bit higher and leave the clippings on it. This creates healthier lawns with better growth and also fertilizes naturally. If not, be sure to not rake your yard waste into nearby stormwater gutters. Use native plants and/or spread mulch on bare ground to help prevent soil erosion.

Buffers: Always leave a minimum of three feet of buffer area around lakes and connecting waterways (including ditches and drains) to ensure fertilizer doesn’t directly enter the water.