A better way to achieve a healthy lawn

For many homeowners, having a thick, dark green, weed-free lawn is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, this goal can come with consequences to our rivers and lakes, estuaries, and Long Island Sound. The fertilizers and pesticides used to obtain these green lawns eventually make their way into these water bodies and can negatively impact both water quality and resident plants and animals. The following steps can be taken to ensure a healthy lawn while minimizing any negative environmental impacts to water bodies near you:

• Fertilizer – Apply only what is needed. Use slow-release fertilizers and/or organic fertilizers. Apply ½ to ⅓ of what is recommended, a maximum of 2-3 lbs. per 1000 sq ft. Also, get a soil test to determine what additives your lawn needs. The University of Connecticut Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory provides inexpensive soil testing and includes environmentally sound fertilizer guidelines with test results (soiltest.uconn.edu/index.php).

• Pesticides – Be certain that a pesticide is needed. Weed and feed products are too general in nature and can harm beneficial soil organisms. Area treatment is preferred vs. broadcast application. Non-chemical methods are best, such as pulling, squishing, flame, or vinegar.

• Water and mowing – cutting your lawn to a 3” height keeps grass roots strong. It is recommended to leave the lawn clippings on the lawn after mowing. Also important is not to overwater. Sprinkling 1- 1.5” of water per week during early morning is best.

Sources: New England Regional Nitrogen & Phosphorous Fertilizer and Associated Management practice recommendations for lawns based on water quality considerations, University of Connecticut 2017.

SeaGrant – www.seagrant.uconn.edu, Long Island Sound Study – www.longislandsoundstudy.net

For more information, visit www.healthylawnshealthyriver.net

These recommendations are supported by the Niantic River Watershed Committee, Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission, Waterford Shellfish Commission, East Lyme Harbor Management-Shellfish Commission, and Waterford Harbor Management Commission.

The writer is a resident of Niantic, chairman of the Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission and sits on the board of the Niantic River Watershed Committee

Published March 24, 2022 | The New London Day

Peter Harris

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