Fertilizers used to promote plant growth and lush green lawns also have the potential to contaminate water sources if applied improperly. Residents can prevent ground and surface water contamination by observing the following practices when applying fertilizer:
- Use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Slow-release or Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN) provide a more controlled release of nitrogen thereby limited the amount of fertilizer leaching into groundwater.
- Use organic products on the lawn. Organic products are carbon-based and are therefore not harmful to the environment.
- Choose the proper spreader and calibrate it correctly. Using a drop spreader instead of a rotary spreader near water supply sources and storm drains will decrease the risk of fertilizer contamination. Also, limiting the application of fertilizer on slopes decreases the potential for runoff.
- Use buffer strips. Leave a strip of unfertilized grasses or natural vegetation near any water body. This helps against erosion and produces a trap for unwanted nutrients.
- Prevent misapplication of fertilizers. Take care when applying fertilizers around sewers and drains. Shut off spreaders before crossing sidewalks or driveways and sweep up any spills. Rinse your spreader over the lawn area and not on the driveway in order to minimize fertilizer runoff.
An application of fertilizer can be applied during the middle of May (Mother’s Day weekend). Slow-release fertilizer will provide nutrients throughout the summer and need less moisture and seldom burn turf. Follow the instructions on the bag of fertilizer, to be sure that you do not use too much as it has the potential for runoff.
Chemical Weed Control
Herbicides are pesticides used to control weeds.
There are two types of herbicides, pre- and post-emergence. Pre-emergence herbicides are applied before the weed seedlings emerge from the soil. Post-emergence herbicides are applied to weeds after they have emerged from the soil.
Spot application of herbicides where weeds are present is recommended, as opposed to using them on the entire lawn. This helps reduce the amount of chemical used and the possibility that it may cause water contamination. Whenever any pesticide is used, be sure to read, understand, and follow all label directions for the safest and most effective handling and application.
Water Conservation Tips
Water usage increases dramatically during summer’s dry weather when lawn-sprinkling demand occurs. To ensure that outdoor watering is effective and efficient, City Code Section 13.16.205 regulates lawn sprinkling. Other things you can do to conserve water and save money are:
- Look for landscaping plants that don’t need much water.
- Use ground covers and mulches around plants.
- Use an automatic sprinkler system with a timer.
- Leave grass tall (2”-4”), as taller grass helps retain moisture in the soil.
- When washing your car, use a hose with a shut-off nozzle. If possible, wash your car on the grass instead of the driveway.