Maine lakes and rivers are suffering as a result of too much phosphorus being washed in by melting snow and rain water. One source of phosphorus is lawn fertilizer. Did you know that your lawn probably doesn’t even need phosphorus? Over 90% of lawns tested in the past five years would not have become greener with additional phosphorus. That means your lawn shouldn’t require phosphorus to stay healthy. And why pay for something you don’t need?
Here are some tips on lake friendly lawn care.
- Have your soil tested first! You can obtain a soil testing kit from the Penobscot County SWCD. A soil test will tell you exactly what your lawn needs to be its best.
- If you must fertilize, use P-free and avoid over fertilizing. Follow the directions on the bag and calibrate your spreader accordingly. Watch for lawn response; if you are not happy with the results apply a second smaller dose. MORE DOES NOT MEAN BETTER. The best time to fertilize is September – the worst is right before spring green-up.
- For some people it may not be necessary to fertilize at all. If you leave grass clippings and your lawn is more than 10 years old there are enough nutrients in the soil to grow a healthy lawn. Younger lawns may need nitrogen; look for bags with 10-0-0 on the label.
- Phosphorus free fertilizer can be found in any hardware store. Look at the three numbers on the bag. The numbers indicate the percent of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. The middle number should be 0.