Fertilizers contain essential nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen that help grow healthy plants. However just like humans, plants can only absorb so many nutrients at a time causing the excess nutrients to remain unused in the soil.

When fertilizer is over-applied to any landscape it is often washed into our waterways during storms via stormwater runoff. The nutrient rich stormwater enters our waterways like Lake Champlain untreated and if levels reach excess amounts can cause blue-green algae blooms or other water quality issues.

Proper Fertilizer Use

Most lawns and gardens in Vermont do not need fertilizer. Don’t guess, soil test! Testing your soil is easy and determines whether your soil needs any supplements. Unnecessary use of fertilizers and pesticides contribute to water pollution When you fertilize without needing to, you actually help things grow in the lake instead of in your lawn or garden.

Helpful Tips

  • Apply fertilizers in the fall, around Labor Day, not in the spring! Plants are able to better use the nutrients to grow stronger roots giving you a greener lawn in the spring.
  • If rain is forecasted do not apply fertilizers or pesticides.
  • Don’t overwater your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.
  • Use organic or non-toxic pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and as directed. Keep them away from ditches, gutters and storm drains. Store them in a covered area, off the ground, to prevent contact with water.
  • Compost and mulch yard waste. Don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams.
  • Don’t blow, sweep, rake or hose yard waste into the street gutter or storm drain.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn or compost them.

To learn more lawn care tips that keep your lawn green while protecting our waters and Lake Champlain, check out http://www.lawntolake.org/

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