In The News

Posted on: June 23, 2017

Lawn Care for Water Quality

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‘Tis the season for turf grass maintenance! Most of us have lawns that need maintaining throughout the warmer months, but did you know that how you care for your lawn can have a big impact on water quality? What lands on your lawn can make its way into storm drains that lead straight to streams and lakes without treatment. That means if you fertilize your lawn, blow grass clippings into the street, or don’t pick up after your pet, all that might be going down the drain straight to water we rely on for drinking and playing.

But it’s easy to minimize your impact! Here are some tips:

  1. Mow high and often. Cut your grass to 3 inches or higher, which helps trap pollutants and leads to a healthier lawn that has stronger roots and is more resistant to weeds. Don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time to avoid stressing the grass. You’ll also avoid having large mats of grass on your yard, which smother grass and are more likely to wash off into the street.
  2. Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings contain the same amount of nutrients as one round of fertilizer, which is good for your lawn and your pocketbook! Be sure to sweep up any clippings that blow into the street so they don’t run down a storm drain.
  3. Water wisely. Lawns don’t need as much water as you might think. Lawns generally need about 1-inch per week to stay green. Try to water in the early morning so the grass absorbs the water better and be sure to divert your sprinklers so they aren’t watering impervious surfaces. If a green lawn isn’t a concern for you, try to not water more than is necessary. Grass that turns yellow or brown in the middle of summer is just going dormant and will bounce back in the fall.
  4. Fertilize in fall. If you are planning on fertilizing your lawn, it will be most effective in the fall. It’s also useful to get a soil test of your yard so you know what nutrients your lawn needs. Be sure to use zero-phosphorus fertilizers and sweep up any fertilizer that falls on hard surfaces. As an alternative to fertilizing, you can aerate in the fall instead.

More tips can be found on the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District website. You can help us improve the watershed, one action at a time!

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