Green Lawns & Green Wallets â€“ NO Green Water!
Spring has sprung, and for many of us that means itâ€™s time to pull the rakes out of storage, grease up the lawn mower, and purchase the fertilizers and pesticides that will whip our lawns into tip-top shape for the upcoming seasons. After all, who wouldnâ€™t enjoy a little green after a Maine winter?
But did you know that excess amounts of fertilizers and pesticides can be harmful to our environment (not to mention, your wallet)? Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous easily wash away in stormwater runoff, and collect in our local waterbodies. While these nutrients can be good for plant growth, they are detrimental to water quality. Excess nutrient levels in our waterways cause nuisance algae blooms that turn our lakes, rivers, and streams green, changing the ecology and natural balance of life that these systems sustain.
Donâ€™t worry â€“ Not all hope is lost! Itâ€™s easy to get a healthy green lawn while minimizing your use of fertilizers and pesticides. Below are some tips to keep the green on your lawn and in your wallet, while keeping it out of our waterways!
â€˘ Set your mower blades to 3â€ť or their highest setting, and leave the clippings on the lawn for a free, natural, slow-release fertilizer.
â€˘ Lawns over 10 years old typically donâ€™t require any fertilizers beyond clippings.
â€˘ Spread rye grass or other annual fescues on your lawn to naturally control weeds.
â€˘ Lawns should receive 1â€ť of water per week. If itâ€™s going to rain this week, no need for the sprinkler!
If youâ€™ve tried the above tips and are not satisfied with the results, have your soil tested. The test results will tell you exactly how much and what types of fertilizers your lawn needs. If a soil test indicates that you should apply fertilizers, here are some application tips:
â€˘ Always use P-free formulas, unless your soil test results tell you otherwise.
â€˘ Avoid products containing both fertilizers and weed killers.
â€˘ Donâ€™t fertilize if there is rain in the forecast â€“ it will all wash away!
â€˘ Donâ€™t fertilize ground that is saturated or soggy.
â€˘ Apply no more than 2 pounds of nitrogen (or 1 pound if leaving clippings) per 1000 square feet of lawn area per year. For help in calculating the correct rate, visit www.BASWG.org.
â€˘ Apply half of the yearly dose after spring green-up, and the other half around Labor Day Weekend.
For a list of retailers selling healthy lawn care products, or for more information visit www.BASWG.org. Cheers to spring, and to keeping our lawns and waterways looking great!
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