Jefferson County, Alabama

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Think Before You Fertilize!

Maintaining that putting green perfect lawn is a goal for a lot of citizens, but the pursuit of perfect turf can lead to the excessive use of fertilizers, that have unintended consequences for the environment and Jefferson County water reclamation facilities.

Jefferson County is required to meet many EPA discharge standards and the removal of phosphorus, found in fertilizer, is one of the most costly to do.

The Role of Phosphorus in Lawn Care

While it is a key nutrient that supports the healthy growth of plants, including lawns, when used excessively, phosphorus gets washed away by rainwater or irrigation and ends up in streams, rivers and lakes. Once it ends up there, it sucks up the oxygen in the water and fish and other aquatic organisms suffer. Common consequences include fish kills and algae blooms that are toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

Help Us Help You

You can play a big role in helping us mitigate these environmental impacts by doing the following:

  • Test Your Soil – a soil test will let you know what nutrients your lawn really needs and will help you avoid the overapplication of phosphorus.
  • Follow Directions – Use fertilizers according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Opt for slow-release or controlled-release formulations that will reduce the potential for runoff.
  • Look for Phosphorus Free Fertilizers – If your soil test shows sufficient levels of phosphorus look for a fertilizer that is phosphorus free.
  • Plant Buffer Zones – if you live near a creek or stream, plant a buffer zone of native plants around the water to absorb runoff before it reaches the water.

Taking these 4 steps will not only help us keep your lakes and rivers cleaner, but it will contribute to a healthier and more sustainable lawn that will still be the envy of your neighbors!