Here in Northern Virginia, we love green lawns and clean 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!
Did you know that fertilizers contain nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which have a negative impact on the health and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay? Plants can only utilize a certain amount of fertilizer, and the excess fertilizer washes away with the rain into neighborhood streams.
Pesticides and herbicides used on lawns can wash off in the same manner. These chemicals indiscriminately kill beneficial plants in our streams, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. They also kill small insects that live in streams and provide food for fish in the food web.
Green Thumb Tips
- Before applying fertilizer, test your soil. You may not need to fertilize! Contact your local extension office for a soil test kit.
- Fall is the best time to fertilize. Always read the instructions on the bag.
- Avoid using chemicals in your yard. Keep it healthy for you, your family and your pets!
- Try composting! Composting is a great way to recycle trimmings from your yard, and you can use the mulch to enrich your soil and feed your plants.
- Use native plants. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and thrive in our local conditions without fertilizers and chemicals. They help feed local wildlife too!
- Recycle your rainwater! Direct your downspouts to your garden beds, to take advantage of the runoff from your house. Collect some of the water in a rain barrel or cistern. Plant a rain garden to help manage the runoff!
Guidelines to Know
Places to Know
- Eco-City Alexandria Initiatives
- Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center
- Virginia Native Plant Society
- Alexandria Farmer’s Markets
- Rain Barrel Workshops
- Arlington County Demonstration Gardens
- Farmers’ Markets
- Native Plant Nurseries
- Parkfairfax Native Plant Sales
- Long Branch Nature Center native plant sale
- City of Falls Church Parks
- City of Falls Church Farmers’ Markets
- City of Falls Church Green Events and Programs
LoudounGreen Thumbs page