As part of the Town’s stormwater public education initiative, Maynard officials are reminding residents of the harmful effects fertilizer can have on water quality.
It’s hard to imagine that a green, flourishing lawn could pose a threat to the environment, but the fertilizers you apply to your lawn are potential pollutants! “If you use too much fertilizer in your lawn or garden, rain can wash it into our streams, wetlands, and even the Assabet River” says Kaitlin Young, Maynard’s Conservation Agent and Assistant Town Planner. “This can have a devastating effect on water quality and the overall ecosystem.”
When you apply too much fertilizer to your yard or garden, the unabsorbed excess gets washed away as stormwater runoff and ends up in our local water bodies and wetlands. Nutrients from fertilizer, like nitrogen and phosphorus, promote the growth of algae and aquatic weeds, threaten the lives of native plants and animals, and can cause declines in water quality. “Aquatic plant and algae overgrowth leads to the depletion of oxygen in the water, which harms the fish and other organisms living there”, says Young. “Plus, algae blooms can make water discolored and foul smelling, and even in some cases can cause health problems for people.”
Maynard is stepping up to stop pollutants like fertilizer from entering our local waters by participating in the “Think Blue Massachusetts” campaign. The campaign is a statewide effort to help residents and businesses do their part to reduce polluted runoff and keep our state’s lakes, rivers, and streams clean and healthy.
How can you fertilize and help keep our waters clean? Use fertilizer sparingly, since many plants don’t need as much or need it as often as you might think. Try not to fertilize before it rains, since the rain will wash the fertilizers away. Use organic fertilizers, which release nutrients more slowly. Have your soil tested before applying fertilizers to your lawn and gardens. A standard soil test costs $15. You may not need to add any fertilizer. To order a soil test, or to find more information, contact the UMass Extension Soil Testing Lab at 413-545-2311 or visit http://soiltest.umass.edu/ordering-information.