1. Reduce Fertilizer Use
- Use only as much fertilizer as you need. More fertilizer won’t make your lawn extra green – it will just run off and pollute our water.
- If you fertilize your lawn, limit your applications to 1-2 times per year. Use an organic, slow-release, water-insoluble fertilizer. Fertilize in the fall, rather than in spring.
- Don’t fertilize on windy days, before a rain storm, or when the ground is frozen.
- Keep fertilizer off pavement. This will help prevent polluted runoff.
- Test your soil to see how much fertilizer your lawn really needs. By knowing your yard’s soil type, you can keep it healthy and prevent pollution.
- If you live on the water, avoid fertilizing too close to the edge of the water.
- Leave grass clippings on your lawn. (That’s right – no raking!) Grass clippings are an excellent natural fertilizer.
2. Stop Polluted Runoff
- Redirect your downspouts away from pavement. This small change will prevent lots of runoff.
- Pull weeds by hand instead of spraying them with pesticides. If weeds are a severe problem in your garden, spot treat them with an organic spray.
- Fix car leaks so oil, antifreeze, and other toxic substances stay out of our water.
- Wash your car on grass or gravel instead of in your driveway. This will allow soapy, dirty wash water to soak into the ground, rather than letting it run off into storm drains.
- Install a rain barrel on your downspout. Not only will this stop runoff, but you can use the collected water for your garden.
- When replacing your driveway, consider an alternative to paving, such as gravel or crushed shells.
- If you live next to the water, plant a buffer of trees and shrubs along the edge of your property. Plant buffers can dramatically reduce the amount of pollution flowing into our local waterways.
3. Save Water
- Don’t overwater your lawn. Your lawn requires only one inch of water per week. Any more than that will create runoff.
- Water your lawn once per week in the early morning. This is the best way to help your lawn grow deep, healthy roots.
4. Plant and Grow Native Plants
- When landscaping, choose native flowers, trees, and shrubs. Native plants require less maintenance and provide better habitat for wildlife.
- Reduce the size of your lawn by creating new gardens filled with native plants.
- Create a rain garden to capture runoff from your yard. You can fill your rain garden with native plants, and it will attract beneficial birds, butterflies, and honeybees.