Common lawn care products can be major contaminators of drinking water sources. Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides enter water sources on the Earth’s surface and below ground through runoff when rain mixes with these products, washing them into nearby streams or causing them to leach into the ground. Environmental factors, application and use practices, as well as product solubility all play a role in their ability to affect our water supply.
To protect against water contamination, home and business owners should use environmentally friendly, water-smart lawn care products and application practices.
Water-Smart Lawn Care Products
Certain lawncare products are better for water supplies than others. Whenever possible, use these options to prevent contaminating water with harmful products.
- Organic mulch
- Diatomaceous earth
- Neem oil
- Bone meal
- Blood meal
- Nematodes for pest control
- No-phosphorus fertilizer
Use Lawncare Products Properly
To limit the amount of lawn care products contaminating water sources, use fertilizers, pesticides, and other products sparingly. Only use them when necessary.
- Research products before applying. Verify the product is a true solution for the issue at hand
- Read the product’s label and only use the recommended amount – applying more product will not improve results.
- Treat your lawn using spot treatments rather than broad applications
- After applying lawn care products, water lawns and plants with ¼ to ½ an inch of water. Doing so will transfer the product to the soil, limiting its loss to runoff.
- Never apply lawn care products before a heavy rain.
- If lawncare products are spilled, sweep them up and reuse or dispose of in the garbage. Never wash them away with the hose or sweep into roadways or storm drains.
Plant for Water Protection
Water sources are more easily contaminated by lawncare products when there is little or no vegetation. Larger plants utilize more water from the soil, limiting a pesticide’s ability to penetrate the soil to reach surface or groundwater. They also utilize precipitation, which limits water pooling and prevents runoff.
- Plant grasses and other ground covering species will help keep lawncare products out of the water supply while preventing soil erosion.
- Border your property with trees and shrubs to absorb more water and lawn care products, reducing the amount which enters water sources.