Your Lawn And The Chesapeake Bay: Insights On Fertilizer From Maryland Department Of Agriculture
9-11-2023 1:54pm Van Fisher
BALTIMORE COUNTY - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has partnered with the University of Maryland Extension to release an educational video guiding homeowners through eco-friendly lawn maintenance practices.
The video seeks to help homeowners safeguard the Chesapeake Bay from fertilizers, pesticides, and gasoline while maintaining a beautiful lawn.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans use nearly three trillion gallons of water, 200 million gallons of gasoline, and 70 million pounds of pesticides yearly for lawn maintenance.
These numbers aren't just staggering - they pose a threat to our local ecosystem. Pesticides and fertilizers can leech into the soil and contaminate local waterways.
Since its implementation in October 2013, Maryland's lawn fertilizer law has aimed to restrict the nutrients—mainly nitrogen and phosphorus—that contribute to harmful algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay. Such blooms obstruct sunlight, deplete oxygen levels in water, and harm aquatic life.
"Homeowners have a pivotal role to play in protecting the Chesapeake Bay, just like farmers. The biggest threat to the Bay is the excessive nutrients that degrade water quality and promote harmful algae blooms," said Kevin Atticks, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. "Our newly released video educates homeowners on best practices for a healthy lawn, which in turn contributes to a healthier Chesapeake Bay."
The video covers essential topics, including specific soil nutrient needs, finding Proper pH levels for nutrient absorption, and effective times for fertilizing. Additionally, the video discusses the benefits of slow-release fertilizers, optimal watering schedules, and where to find certified, Bay-friendly lawn care professionals.
"How you take care of your lawn is really important. Less is more. You don't want to fertilize a lot. All that fertilizer can end up in a stream and create all kinds of problems for these critters. Also, everybody wants to see a perfect green lawn, but weeds are beautiful, too, and a lot of them have a function. And a lot of native species have much greater ability to filter (pollutants) than some of the invasives we plant in our yards," Baltimore County Natural Resource Specialist Sarah Witcher said in a 2019 mini documentary.