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Fertilize sparingly and caringly
Remember you’re not just fertilizing your lawn; you’re fertilizing our local water bodies!

What’s the issue?
Storm drains found in our streets and our yards empty into our lakes and streams without being treated.  So, when we fertilize our lawn we could also be fertilizing our lakes and streams. While fertilizer is good for our lawn, unfortunately it’s bad for our water. Fertilizer in our lakes and streams causes algae to grow. This can form large algae blooms and uses up oxygen that fish need to survive. With a majority of the 1.5 million homes in Southeast Michigan fertilizing their lawn, all of us need to be aware of the affects of our lawn care practices.

Remember, a few simple changes can make a big difference in the quality of our water.  These changes can also save you time too!

Go slow. Select an organic or slow-release fertilizer. Check the label. A slow release fertilizer has at least half of the nitrogen in a water insoluble form. These fertilizers gradually release nitrogen to plant roots instead of releasing all the nitrogen at one time. This provides a steady supply of plant nutrients over an extended period of time. Because you need less fertilizer, you will save time and money.

Buy low
. Select a fertilizer with low or no phosphorus. Most lawns already contain enough phosphorus. Excess phosphorus is the primary culprit of algae blooms in our lakes!

Mow high
. Make your lawn cheaper and easier to maintain by mowing high – three inches is the rule! Tall grass promotes root growth and shades out weeds. Let short clips fall back on the lawn. Clippings recycle nitrogen back into the soil, so fertilizer can be reduced by 25% or more!

Sweep it. Fertilizer left on sidewalks and driveways will easily wash into storm drains. So, save money and our lakes and streams by sweeping fertilizer back onto the lawn.

Don’t Guess…Soil Test. 
A soil test will tell you what, if any, fertilizer is needed in your yard. Contact your county Michigan State University Extension office for more information.

Make fertilizer-free zones
. Keep fertilizer applications at least 20 feet away from the edge of lakes, streams, or storm drains.

Hire smart
. Select a lawn service that uses organic fertilizers or offers a slow-release nitrogen, low phosphorus option.


Simple Steps to Keep Our Water Clean

Fertilize sparingly and caringly

Choose Earth Friendly Landscaping

Practice Good Car Care

Properly Dispose of Household Waste

Be a Responsible Waterfront Owner




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© 2005-2009 Genesee County Drain Commission
For More Information, please contact:
Genesee County Drain Commission