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Environmentally friendly lawn care tips

Reduce soil compaction

  • Aerate using a core-plug aerator that can be rented at your local yard and garden store.
  • Add organic matter by lightly top dressing with well-aged leaf compost.

Mow at 3 inches

This height promotes deeper root growth and reduces moisture loss. Short grass is more prone to drought and disease.

Choose the right lawn grass species

Ask:

  • What kind of soil do you have (clay or sandy)?
  • How sunny is your lawn (sunny all day, sunny only part of the day, or always shady)?
  • How moist does the lawn stay after a rain?
  • Does your lawn get heavy use?

Check the U of M Extension Service's website more information about choosing a grass species. Look for drought tolerant and regional varieties of Kentucky Blue Grass. Consider fine-fescue lawn mix -- it is appropriate for less used areas of your lawn. Buy quality seed with low annual and weed content.

Lawn Fertilizer Tips

The U of M Extension Service's website also publishes information describing efficient fertilizer use to minimize the environmental impact while achieving the most benefit for your lawn.

Water SMART to reduce excessive evaporation

  • Don't water between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. or in strong winds.
  • Water deeply but infrequently -- about one inch of water per week.
  • Use low-volume drip irrigation/targeted irrigation.
  • Consider rain and moisture sensors if you do have an automatic irrigation system. Or check at your local hardware store for smart timers/controllers.

Harvest rainwater

You can make your own rain barrel or purchase one to capture rainwater for use around your yard and garden.

Create low-water-use landscapes

Select the right plant for the right place. To do well, all plants prefer a specific moisture zone, as well as specific soil and light conditions, to do well. Choose deep-rooted plants that are more drought tolerant. Many native grasses create a beautiful backdrop and have deep roots.

Choose rainwater-absorbing landscape materials

  • Choose permeable hardscapes for patios and driveways to allow the rainwater to absorb rather than run off of your property.
  • Strategically place trees, shrubs and perennial planting areas to absorb runoff.
  • Plant a rainwater garden to filter and absorb rainwater, further reducing runoff. Visit the following link for more information about rainwater gardens.

Eliminate chemical treatments, or use nontoxic lawn and garden chemicals

More stores are carrying nontoxic chemicals. Look for "natural organic" or "slow release" ingredients. These products tend to create healthier plants with stronger root systems and less excessive top growth, saving you time and money. They are safer for kids to play on, too.

Compost yard waste

Composting saves money and produces high-quality, free fertilizer -- it's "black gold!" See our  PDF iconhandout on backyard composting  for more information.