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Tips everyone can use to help reduce pollution and keep our waters healthy and clean.

In Your Community | On Your Lake or River | On Your Farm | In Your Yard
Tips For Fertilizing
| In Your House

In Your Community

  • Get active in the issues that interest you, whether it’s land use, water quality, recycling, or invasive species.
  • Join or organize cleanups for your neighborhood, local parks, and state parks.
  • Attend workshops and awareness days to learn more about your watershed.
  • Encourage your neighborhood association to include native vegetation rules in its bylaws.
  • Call for help when you need it. There are many resources available to answer your questions and provide assistance.

On Your Lake or River

  • Inspect your boat and trailer for invasive plants and animals.
  • Do not transfer bait from one lake to another.
  • Dispose of trash properly—don’t dump anything overboard.
  • Do not dump bundles of wood into the lake. It does not create good fish habitat; in fact, it provides anchor points for invasive mussels and weeds!
  • Remove trash and human waste from the lake before the ice melts.
  • Dispose of cigarette and cigar butts properly.
  • Respect no-wake zones and noise restrictions.
  • Do not disturb or aggravate wildlife.
  • Plant a greenbelt of native plants on your shore- line to prevent erosion and runoff.
  • Reduce the size of your lawn area to conserve water and reduce chemicals.
  • Set your lawn mower at a higher level—your grass will be greener and will need less water.
  • Do not feed ducks and geese (they carry swimmer’s itch) but do feed and provide nesting habitat for songbirds and other species.

On Your Farm

  • Restrict cattle access to lakes and streams. Provide them with a different water source (NRCS has programs to help with funding).
  • Do not over-apply pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Maintain a buffer strip of vegetation between crops and water bodies.
  • Dispose of animal waste properly, away from water sources.

In Your Yard

  • Maintain native trees and vegetation.
  • Maintain existing wetlands (do not fill them in).
  • Minimize the area of paved surfaces like drive- ways, sidewalks, and patios.
  • Get your soil tested by MSU Extension to see if you need fertilizer.
  • If you need it, use only phosphorus-free fertilizer.
  • Water your lawn less often.
  • Don’t dump grass clippings in the lake or on the beach. Instead, use them to mulch your plants or dispose of them on yard waste pickup days.
  • Landscape with native plants, which need less maintenance and help prevent erosion and absorb pollution.
  • Divert rain gutters to unpaved areas on your property where water can soak into the ground.

Tips For Fertilizing

  • TRY NOT FERTILIZING: Your lawn may have enough nitrogen already. Stop fertilizing and see how it goes! BUT IF YOU MUST FERTILIZE...
  • Use a fertilizer with a LOW FIRST NUMBER, preferably less than 10, and that contains a MINIMUM OF 50% SLOW RELEASE NITROGEN
  • Fertilize only once in the spring and once in the fall.
  • Get your soil tested.
  • Go Native. Native plantings require no commercial fertilization after establishment because they are naturally adapted to our soil and climate.
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn.
  • Plant clover or low nitrogen grasses.
  • Replace loose Stone Yards with Non-Fertilized Native Plants by Xeriscaping. Visit http://www.pineridgegardens.com/xeriscape.htm for more great information.
  • Do not fertilize when rain is expected in the next 24 hours.
  • Use a broom to remove fertilizer spilled onto driveways and sidewalks.
  • Never fertilize within 10 feet of streams, creeks, or the Bay.
  • Never allow grass clippings to go down storm drain catch basins.
  • Let the grass grow to a height of 3”.
  • Use a Hand-Powered Rotary Mower.

In Your House

  • Avoid or minimize the use of pesticides whenever possible.
  • Carefully use household hazardous materials such as drain cleaner, paints, varnish, and motor oil. Don't dispose of these substances down the drain. Save these types of waste for a household hazardous waste collection.
  • Use environmentally friendly detergents and cleaning products, and use all chemicals sparingly.
  • Unplug electrical devices when they’re not being used.
  • Have your septic system inspected every 1 to 3 years and pumped as recommended by the inspector.
  • Recycle—contact your local County Conservation Districts for locations.
  • Fix leaks and use low-flow faucets.
  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and shave, and use your washing machine and dishwasher only when they’re full.

Description of Native, Non-Native, & Invasive Species

Sources: Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council & Huron Pines

This page last updated on 1/13/2015.

Northeast Michigan Council of Governments
80 Livingston Blvd. | PO Box 457
Gaylord, MI  49734
(989) 705-3730 | nemcog.org

Great Lakes Restoration Northeast Michigan Council of Governments US Environmental Protection Agency

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