October 2, 2011

Fertilize your lawn wisely

Most established lawns require no phosphorus, yet many homeowners routinely applied fertilizer containing phosphorus. Fertilizer with nitrogen is also frequently misapplied to paved surfaces, frozen ground, or grass that simply doesn’t need it. Avoid chemicals and use an organic product like the truly organic Nutri-Green to topdress lawn areas that are suffering from drought, before reseeding those areas.

Bipartisan legislation in Virginia will soon bar the sale of fertilizer containing phosphorus for use on established lawns. Why? To avoid costly pollution cleanups later by not allowing the pollution to occur in the first place. This much-needed legislation could cut up to 230,000 pounds of phosphorus pollution per year, or 22 percent of Virginia’s phosphorus reduction goal for 2017. And that could save Virginia localities millions of dollars by reducing their need to install expensive runoff treatment systems to comply with the new Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet.” Once phosphorus gets into runoff, it can cost more than $30,000 per pound to remove it using engineered stormwater systems.

The new Virginia law also requires lawn service companies and other professionals to apply fertilizer only according to nutrient management standards, mandates clear labeling on fertilizer packages to inform consumers about proper application rates, and prohibits the use of de-icers that contain nitrogen.