Thick, healthy turf is kind of like a sponge. The average 10,000-square-foot lawn can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of water from a rainfall event, preventing erosion and acting as a filter to help keep pollutants out of the groundwater. And as we maintain our lawns, we can do our part to protect the purity of our water sources by using responsible lawn-care practices.
Not all lawn fertilizers are alike. Quality lawn fertilizers, such as Scotts® Turf Builder®, use slow-release nitrogen that feeds the lawn over time. "Bargain" fertilizers, such as those that have the numbers 10-10-10 on them, are really just farm-grade fertilizers. These bargain products release their nutrients more quickly and can even supply way more Phosphorus than a typical lawn needs.
Be careful not to over-apply fertilizer to your lawn, especially on slopes or sandy soils. Use an accurate spreader and set it according to the directions on the fertilizer bag. Never apply fertilizer to frozen ground. When applying any lawn product, try to keep it off the driveway, sidewalk, and street - and especially avoid sewer grates. If the directions call for watering after application, don't over-water.
It's hard to avoid getting some fertilizer on the pavement. Just be sure to sweep it back onto the lawn after you're done. It's good to leave the clippings on your lawn when you mow, but sweep or blow them off the driveway, sidewalk, or street.
To improve the absorption of water and nutrients and reduce the potential for runoff, aerate your lawn if it is compacted or has a thick layer of thatch. Seed or sod lawn areas where the bare soil is exposed. If you have places where it's difficult to maintain a good lawn, consider replacing the grass with groundcover or other plantings.
By following these tips, you can grow a beautiful, thick lawn and feel good about it - because both you and your lawn will be helping the environment.