Here in Northern Virginia, we love green lawns and clear water. We can have both if homeowners fertilize their yards responsibly by reading directions on the bag and applying fertilizer in the fall. But we better act fast — before it’s too late to save the crabs, oysters, and fish that are disappearing from polluted waters.
The Rookie Mistake: Too Much Fertilizer
According to the Clean Water Partners’ surveys, there are nearly 750,000 residents fertilizing their lawns in Northern Virginia. That adds up to more than 7,500 tons of fertilizer each year. Most of it isn’t necessary.
Real yard experts know that too much fertilizer is as bad as too little. They test their soil with an inexpensive kit before they bust out that spreader. If necessary, they fertilize in September or October. If you fertilize in spring, heavy rains will wash most of your hard work and money right down the storm drain and into the nearest creek.
Helping the Wrong Plants Grow
When lawn fertilizer reaches the water, it helps the wrong plants grow. Fertilizer feeds nasty algae that smothers the water grasses at the base of the food chain for those tasty blue crabs, oysters, and rockfish that we love. Some of our most beloved seafood species are in serious trouble, and careless fertilizing is a big reason why.
But the Clean Water Partners’ surveys are turning up good news, too. The number of people who fertilize in fall is growing each year. And that means that literally tons of fertilizer, applied in September and October, is soaking into the soil — instead of washing down the drain and into the creek.
Won’t you be part of this growing trend? The Northern Virginia Clean Water Partners co-sponsor the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog, your source for all things green in Washington, DC and surrounding areas. If you’re looking to swap tips, share stories, have more fun, and take better care of your lawn and garden, then this is the blog for you! And for other helpful information from your local government, click the appropriate link below: