Unfortunately, lawn care chemicals often wind up washing right into local waters.
- If you must fertilize, September is the best month. And be sure to use slow-release fertilizer.
- If you want to fertilize more than once, don't fertilize in the spring until you have mowed the lawn three times.
- More is not always better! Skip the "step programs" offered by many lawn care companies, and be sure to apply fertilizers and pesticides only as directed. Using less will save you money, too! If you do use a lawn care company, ask them about their environmental options and certifications.
- Go natural: mow high and leave grass clippings on the lawn. It helps improve the lawn's health and quality, and you're less likely to need fertilizer.
- Avoid using fertilizers or pesticides near wellheads or within 75 feet of waterways.
- Check the weather forecast before applications, and don't apply fertilizers or pesticides when there is rain predicted.
- Avoid using combination fertilizer/pesticide products. Hand pick weeds when possible, and if you must treat weeds or insects with pesticides, spot treat them rather than dousing the entire lawn.
Sweep Spills Back Onto the Lawn
Anything that's lying on pavement is more easily washed by stormwater down stormdrains.
- If any chemicals or yard debris get on the sidewalk or driveway, sweep them back onto the lawn to prevent it from washing into stormdrains.
- Don't hose the driveway or the sidewalk to get it clean.
Don't Dump Into Stormdrains
Everything that enters a stormdrain can go directly to local waters.
- Don't dump, wash, or rake anything directly into a stormdrain or into the path of stormdrain.
- Keep all lawn chemicals and yard debris out of stormdrains. Even grass clippings and excess leaves don't belong in our streams and rivers.
The water that runs off roofs often flows directly to the nearest stormdrain. There are several ways to deal with that water:
- Get a rain barrel. They are installed under a roof downspout or sometimes connected directly to the downspout. The water that's captured can be used for irrigation.
- If the runoff from your roof flows directly onto pavement, consider using downspout extenders to direct the water to a landscaped area instead.
- Install a rain garden, which is a natural or dug shallow depression designed to soak up water. Rain gardens are created with highly absorbent soil and the proper mix of shrubs and plants to facilitate collecting water.
- If you're thinking of re-paving your driveway, consider an alternative: a wide range of porous materials have become available that allow water to pass through their surface (in the case of porous asphalt or concrete) or through void spaces (in the case of concrete or grid pavers). Many times, these porous materials are the same price or cheaper than installing conventional asphalt or concrete.
Conserving water when you're working outdoors can reduce the potential for contaminants to wind up in local waters.
- Established lawns are happy with one inch of water per week, including rainfall. And if you must water, water just once a week for a deep soaking.
- Adjust sprinklers so that they don't water paved surfaces. In the event that it's unavoidable, direct the flow of water toward your lawn or garden.
- Check the weather forecast, if you have automatic sprinklers, and be sure they aren't programmed to come on in the rain.
- Don't water in the heat of the day. Water early in the morning or in the evening minimizes the water lost to evaporation.
- Consider using slow-watering techniques such as drip irrigation or soaker hoses.