- Test your soil before you apply fertilizers.
Fertilizers contain nutrients. UNH Soils lab conducts soil analysis for landowners. The form and directions for soil submissions are at the UNH Cooperative Extension Web site (www.ceinfo.unh.edu) through the Agricultural Resources button. Test every 3 years or so.
- If your soil test indicates that you are low on nutrients, use organic or slow release products according to what your lawn needs.
Slow release nitrogen is sometimes listed on the fertilizer bag as Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN). If the WIN is less than half the total amount of nitrogen in the bag, it is a quick-release fertilizer. Apply fertilizer in the fall. NEVER apply fertilizer before a rain. It’ll run off.
- Water slowly and thoroughly to allow the water to seep into the soil.
This helps roots grow deep and strong. Watering in the morning is the best to prevent loosing water through evaporation in mid day sun or persistent dampness from night moisture. Water (or rain) no more than an inch a week.
- Leave the grass clippings on the lawn!
Mow to maintain your grass about 2.5 – 3 inches tall and leave the grass clippings on the lawn! Clippings help grass retain moisture and replace nutrients. Be sure to keep them off of sidewalks, driveways and streets where runoff could pick them up and carry them into water.
- Use grass varieties that require less mowing, watering and fertilizer.
Recommended combinations include Hard Fescue, Chewing fescue, Perennial ryegrass, Canada bluegrass, or Dutch White clover. Reduce air pollution with a human powered mower! Reduce work by not having a lawn! Plant perennials.
- Create your own compost.
Turn yard waste and plant-based food scraps into your own compost. See the Family, Home and Garden Education Center publications at www.ceinfo.unh.edu or contact them at 1-877.EXT-GROW for more information.
- Protect trees and shrubs on the landscape, especially near water!
One of the best things you can do for water quality and wildlife is to preserve vegetation between your property and the nearest water body. Trees and shrubs seem to work best.
- Check your property for bare soils and steep slopes and seed or mulch them.
Bare soil, especially on steep slopes is very susceptible to erosion. Encourage the growth and establishment of vegetation to secure soils in those places. Native plants are the quickest to establish and easiest to maintain.
- Use common sense when it comes to pests!
Don’t panic at the sight of an insect. In fact, a little insect damage is okay! Remove weeds, insects and other pests by hand. Think prevention by promoting a healthy, resistant lawn. If you must use pesticide, READ THE WATER QUALITY INFORMATION on the label and NEVER apply it before a rain.
For information about specific pests see http://extension.unh.edu/ Family, Home and Garden Education Center or call them at 877/EXT GROW.