Q.  I have heard about the connection between some fertilizers and lake pollution.  Can you tell me which fertilizer is lake safe?

A. The term “lake safe fertilizer” refers to a fertilizer which contains mostly slow release nitrogen and is low in phosphorous.  Nitrogen promotes green color and growth and phosphorous promotes root growth.  Both of these nutrients in our lakes and rivers promote excessive vegetation growth including algae growth.

How these nutrients get into our lakes can come from a variety of sources.  Soil leaching and run off are two sources related to lawn fertilizing.  Improper farming fertilizing techniques and sanitary sewer overflows are other sources of lake fertilizer pollutants.  Liquid fertilizer and unprocessed urea nitrogen fertilizer if improperly used can easily end up in the lakes instead of in your garden of lawn.  Heavy rains can wash the fertilizer into the drains.  Clean excessive fertilizer off the paved surfaces and do not apply just before a heavy rainstorm. Another problem is fertilizing too early when the ground is still frozen since the fertilizer can not enter the soil.

Quality lake safe fertilizers contain slow release nitrogen and are low in phosphorous. Many include micronutrients such as iron, manganese, sulfur, etc… These ingredients will help darken the green color of the lawn and allow it to grow stronger. Greenview recently introduced their Fairway formula fertilizer line, a new long lasting fertilizer that only requires 2 applications per year.   Only two applications a year are needed because of the slow release nitrogen.  There is also a zero phosphorous blend too.  Other “lake safe” fertilizers are Turf Nurture, Espoma’s Turf tone, Milorganite, Osmocote and a few other less known brands.  When shopping for fertilizer as the professional at your local garden center to show you the lake safe fertilizers they stock.  Only fertilizing 2 or 3 times a year is another great benefit to applying slow release fertilizers.

Insect control may or may not be needed on your lawn.  More than likely your lawn will not need it unless you have had problems last season.  Insecticides should be used sparingly. Unless you find insects doing damage to your lawn why introduce unnecessary pesticides into our environment. Broad spectrum insect controls applied to your lawn year after year you will start to kill off the beneficial insects and earthworms that are your natural safeguard.

During the growing season every lawn will have a few weeds sprout.  It works best to always have a spray bottle of spot weed killer around for the occasional spray when you see new weeds developing.  Spot application of weed control will reduce the total amount of weed control products needed on your lawn and you will control most weeds before they overtake your grass.  The fertilizer you apply will help the lawn thick and control weed growth.

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