Going green has always been a focus in our lives over the past couple years. Deciding on becoming more sustainable, environmentally-friendly or "green" are good practices to carry forth. But going greener for your yard and garden, isn't as great as one may think. It actually causes damage to the environment if done incorrectly or in excess. Many people use fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides to enhance the appearance of their yards and gardens. And as it turns out, it's not always greener on the other side. If you use too much of these products or apply them incorrectly and even at the inappropriate time, stormwater runoff can easily carry them from your lawn or garden into stormdrains. As the water carries these fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides into lakes, rivers, and streams they turn our local waterways green as well, but with ALGAE.
In aquatic ecosystems, algae flourishes when nutrients, in the fertilizer, are in abundance. But too much algae and aquatic plant growth can make boating, fishing, and swimming unpleasant. As well as, impact local aquatic life. In abundance, algae can block out sunlight from reaching deeper depths of a water column, prohibiting aquatic plant growth. They also use up available oxygen as they die, which other aquatic life needs to survive creating an unhealthy and uninhabitable aquatic environment.
Weed killers and pesticides are designed to kill plants and animals in your yard. However, when they get into our waterways, they can kill plants and animals that are not a problem and destroy good habitats for aquatic wildlife. Fish and amphibians are vulnerable to these chemicals as well. If fish and amphibians are hurt or killed by these products, it effects local fisherman in business and recreation.
BUT WAIT YOU CAN HELP!
- Read the labels, and follow the instructions provided on the products.
- Use fertilizer sparingly, many plants don't need as much as you think. Too much can even harm them. Also, roots, leaves, and fruits need different nutrients. Test your soil to find the right dose and type to match your plants' needs.
- Pay attention to the weather report. Don't treat your lawn or garden with any chemicals if rain is in the forecast.
- Use slow-release fertilizers and other more environmentally friendly products.
- Try non-chemical alternatives, if you'd like, such as compost.
- Plant companion plants that dissuades pests, such as mint which deters mosquitos and spiders.
- Pull weeds by hands.
- Use mulch to prevent weed growth and held your garden retain moisture
- Trade lawn for native ground cover or shrubs.
- Make sure to follow all laws and regulations regarding pesticide application information. These chemicals can be harmful to people, especially children, as well as pets.
- Make sure to properly dispose of unused chemicals. Never dump down a stormdrain.
When you treat the lawn, remember you're not just treating your lawn!