What can we do to prevent lawn fertilizers from contaminating our ponds and estuaries?
Towns on the Cape including Orleans recently passed bylaws that reduce excess nitrogen and phosphorus from entering our surface waters and wetlands. Fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus negatively affect our ponds as they move from lawns into the watershed and into our ponds and estuaries. All forms of nitrogen fertilizers and phosphorus promote plant growth including algae in our waters. Mineral and organic substances that contain phosphorus increase root growth and are permitted only in new lawns during their first year of growth.
Here are the fertilizer regulations for Orleans, but before applying any type of fertilizer or pesticide on your lawn, check. the regulations for your town.
Any application of a lawn fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus is prohibited between October 16th and April 14th and not allowed before heavy rainfall. Before applying any commercial type of fertilizer on your lawn, gardens, trees or shrubs, test your soil for an analysis of the nutrients that are needed depending on the type of crop and lawn grown. Our UMass Extension provides a comprehensive Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory in Amherst that provides this service. Visit the website to download a copy of the sampling instructions and optional soil tests offered: firstname.lastname@example.org
No nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizers can be applied within 100 feet of any wetland, pond or water body including salt-water estuaries.
Any phosphorus containing fertilizer shall not be used unless a soil test within the last three years indicates the need for phosphorus for the growth of turf.
No more than one pound of nitrogen per one thousand square feet is permitted applied annually not to exceed one half pound per application in the spring and early fall.
Nitrogen should only be applied in an organic, slow-release and water insoluble form if needed.
The Orleans Pond Coalition recommends that you only have a Cape Cod type lawn that won’t require annual nitrogen and phosphorus applications. Planting drought resistant fescue and perennial ryegrass varieties rather than the Kentucky Bluegrass varieties will provide a lawn that doesn’t require irrigation and pesticides to control insects and diseases. Furthermore, living on Cape Cod with our watersheds that flow into our ponds and estuaries, we are the stewards of these water resources for future generations. With fewer Kentucky Bluegrass green lawns and irrigation systems we can help preserve our water bodies from becoming contaminated with algae growth and you can manage your landscape and protect our fragile waters by using less nitrogen and phosphorus.