Pesticides and fertilizers are among the many common pollutants found in stormwater runoff that can impact water quality. When pesticides wash into local waters they contaminate the water and poison aquatic life. Fertilizers contain nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients can overload natural water bodies and result in the growth of algal blooms which use up the water's oxygen and impact fish and other aquatic organisms.
To protect water quality of lakes, rivers and streams it is strongly recommended that property owners reduce or eliminate the use of cosmetic pesticides and fertilizers. You can still have a healthy, happy lawn without the use of chemicals. Here are some tips to protect your lawn and the surrounding environment:
- Vinegar is one of the most easily accessible and safest ways to kill weeds. The acetic acid in vinegar breaks down plant cells and kills the top growth. But, because it does not kill the roots, you’ll have to reapply.
- Corn gluten meal, found at lawn and garden centres, acts as both a fertilizer and an all-natural herbicide that is effective at preventing the growth of dandelions and other weeds. It can be applied to an established lawn in early spring before the weeds germinate.
- Kitchen compost and lawn waste make excellent natural fertilizer for your lawn. Or better yet, brew your own compost tea!
- Mow high (6-7 cm) and leave grass clippings on the lawn, which adds nutrients to the soil. The shade of tall, dense grass will overcrowd weeds and reduce growth.
- Aeration is the best fertilizer. Use an aerator to pull plugs of grass out of your lawn to allow more air to reach the roots. This promotes a healthy lawn and results in vigorous new growth.
- Landscape with native species that will have less need for fertilizers and pesticides.
- Also, remember to pick up after your pets. Pet waste carries
numerous bacteria which finds its way into the storm sewer
system and ultimately into streams, rivers and lakes.