Did you know that Van Buren County has joined Lake Michigan shore counties, Allegan, Muskegon and Ottawa, in adopting an ordinance that requires the use of phosphorus free fertilizers on all lawns including residential, commercial and golf courses? The ordinance exempts agriculture, garden, flowers, trees, shrubs, new lawns, and lawn with soil tests indicating phosphorus is required. Phosphorus is not needed by most established lawns. Phosphorus can run off into lakes, rivers, and streams and cause algae growth. One pound of phosphorus can result in 750 pounds of algae. At its core the ordinance will improve the overall water quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams by eliminating the potential for phosphorus entering waterways. The Van Buren County ordinance takes effect January 1, 2010.
Even more recently (16-Dec- 2010), Michigan adopted a state wide law regulating the use of phosphorous fertilizers on lawns. For more information and to view these regulations, State Law – PA 299 of 2010
Tips for applying fertilizer:
Always leave a minimum three foot buffer area around lakes and connecting waterways (including ditches and drains!) to ensure fertilizer does not come into direct contact with the water.
Use a slow release fertilizer. This type releases small amounts of nutrients over time to ensure that all are absorbed properly and utilized by the plants. Liquid fertilizer quickly infiltrates the surface and groundwater supplies when lawns and gardens are irrigated, or during a rainstorm.
Slow release fertilizers generally need to be applied only once during a growing season. No reapplication is necessary, especially when you incorporate native vegetation into your landscape.