Skip the Fertilizer This Summer

Summer is here, which means it is the perfect time to enjoy boating, swimming, and fishing, but the summer months can be hard on our waterways.

Summer means higher temperatures and increased rainfall, which leads to more stormwater runoff from the streets and more fertilizer runoff from the land. Rain also soaks into the ground and raises the water table, which can lead to flooded septic tanks and inundated sewage pipes. All of these factors contribute to increased nutrient pollution in the water during the summer months. 

Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus help our plants grow, but they also cause pollution problems when too much gets into the water. During the rainy season, excess nutrients in fertilizer often get washed down storm drains and into waterways before plants can absorb them. When too many nutrients from fertilizer or other sources such as stormwater, septic tanks, and sewage leaks enter our rivers, it can cause harmful algae blooms and fish kills. Here are a few ways that you can help to prevent fertilizer pollution: 

  • Do not apply fertilizer during the rainy summer months.
  • Plant native plants that do not require fertilization.
  • Test your soil to determine if/ how much fertilizer is needed. 
  • Use compost to enrich soil. 
  • If you do apply fertilizer, do not apply it near storm drains or waterways and use only slow-release fertilizer.
  • When irrigating with reclaimed water, adjust your fertilizer rate to account for the additional nutrients that exist in reclaimed water.
  • Sweep grass clippings back into the yard, or recycle them in a compost pile. Never allow grass clippings to be washed into storm drains.