Healthy Lawn Care Practices For Green Lawns And Blue Waters

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Why Healthy Lawn Care?  A healthy lawn is green and thick … a place to walk on safely without concerns for children and pets.  Even more important, a healthy lawn holds fertilizer and any pesticide in the soils – keeping pollutants out of storm drains.

Why is this important? Since storm drains connect to our lakes and rivers, we all live on “waterfront property”!  We now know that 50% or more of the troublesome water pollutants originate from home lawns.  A little care can go a long way.

Below are Go Green Lawn Care tips developed by Michigan State University’s Turfgrass Specialist in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Science that will result in a green and healthy lawn and keep our local waters clean for all to enjoy.

Mow High – Recycle Clippings

Mow at least 3 inches high

Return clippings to recycle nutrients

Sweep clippings from walks and driveways onto the lawn

Taller grass crowds out weeds and promotes deeper roots

Deeper roots help the lawn survive droughts


Fertilize in Fall for Best Results

Fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn

Be patient in the spring – wait until May to fertilize

Don’t fertilize if the ground is frozen or saturated with water

Don’t guess – soil test for proper fertilizer recommendations


Choose Lawn-Type Fertilizer

Choose lawn fertilizer with low or not phosphorus (the middle number) and follow the directions

Avoid using “triple” products (e.g. 12-12-12)

Confirm spreader settings before applying


Clean-Up – Avoid Surface Water

Maintain a NO APPLICATION ZONE near lakes, rivers, streams and storm drains.

Never discharge clippings near lakes, rivers, streams or drains

Sweep fertilizer granules from walks and driveways onto the lawn

Wash the spreader on the grass

Water Smart

Don’t soak your lawn and avoid night watering.

Watering should not produce puddles; lighter, more frequent watering is best.

Brown lawns are OK; dormancy is a natural response to drought, however, some water may be necessary during an extended drought of more than a month

Following Go Green Lawn Care Tips will reduce the amount of water your lawn needs.

For more information about how to maintain a healthy lawn or answers to common lawn care questions please visit MSU Extension’s Home Lawns website.