Protect Drinking Water Supplies

“Green” Lawn Care Tips for a Healthy Lawn & a Healthy Environment

Whether you own or lease property for private or public use, or as a business, one item of maintenance is sure to be the lawn. Everyone likes a green healthy looking lawn, free of weeds and pests and with as little maintenance as possible. Healthy lawns have less potential to pollute storm water runoff or pollute ground water. Here are a few “green” tips to achieve a healthy lawn and help the environment.

Dethatching: Rake dead & dying matted grass if greater than ½ inch thick. Less thatch allows air, water & fertilizer to reach the soil providing the potential for greater biologically activity. This allows soil organisms to do their work, like breaking down grass clippings that feed your lawn’s root system.

Mowing: Try not to remove more than 1/3 of the blade in one cutting. More can cause stress and increase the potential for pests and
diseases. Keeping the mower blades sharp to produce a nice clean cut with no frays can also reduce the potential for pests and diseases.
Set the mower blade to mow a height of 3 – 4”. Taller grass provides shade reducing weeds from germinating and cools the soil reducing
moisture loss.

Clippings & Leaves: Leaves & clippings should be mulched or discharged back to green areas. Soil organisms will break down this
resource as it feeds your lawn. Keep clippings and leaves away from impervious areas such as the street and sidewalks. Not only will they
clog the storm drains and culverts, but it’s also wasting a resource.

Composting: If you choose to collect your clippings and leaves you still have some green options. Leaves and grass clippings make excellent composting material. Set aside a place to compost in your yard. The composted material can be used in your garden and the needy areas of your lawn. Don’t care to have your own compost? We are fortunate to have a composting facility near Marietta. Greenleaf Landscaping accepts clippings and leaves along with tree trimmings. There are restrictions on limb size – so check ahead of time. This service is free to City of Marietta residents.

Pesticides: Use pesticides sparingly. Know your weeds and if desired, treat accordingly. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines. Beware….some broad leaf pesticides can destroy soil organisms.

Fertilizing: Grass clippings and leaves should be mulched back into the lawn utilizing a mulching mower or side discharge. Clippings provide nutrients. Know your soil. Unless your soil is sandy you may not need additional fertilizer. If in doubt, test. If chemical fertilizers are used follow manufacturer’s guidelines. Mishandled use can kill soil life and structure. Utilize a slow release fertilizer to provide food over a period of time. Fall is the best time to fertilize your root system and rigorous roots provide a healthy lawn.

Irrigation: If you must water, water slowly so that pesticides & fertilizers do not wash into storm drains. These products can be costly, you don’t’ want to lose the investment. Morning hours are best for watering, reducing evaporation in the heat of the day and diseases that can occur from evening watering. Know your soil. Clay soils hold more moisture and dry out slower needing less watering verses sandy soils that hold less and dry more quickly. During times of drought watering may be restricted. Don’t worry, brown grass is not dead, it’s just dormant.

Protect your well field: Don’t use pesticides and fertilizers within 300 feet of a well head. This is known as the isolation area around a well used for drinking water. The water you protect may be your own!

Kathy Davis is with the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District.