Time to Put Away the Fertilizer

rain on tree roots_cleanedAre you still applying fertilizer to your lawn?  Or is your lawn care company still coming like clock work to apply chemicals even though you’ve got Christmas lights hanging in the bushes?

This late in the season there is really no benefit to applying those chemicals, and you risk polluting local waterways with excessive nitrogen.  Chemicals applied to winter lawns are not absorbed and just run off the yard and into local storm drains when it rains and snows.  They then quickly make their way to the local creeks, then the local rivers and in short order, the Chesapeake Bay.

The problem of excessive nutrients in local rivers is so big that the District of Columbia even took the step of banning the practice of winter applications when the Mayor’s Office wrote the big “Sustainable DC” plan in 2012.  As a part of that package of laws, the city now prohibits applying fertilizer after Nov 15th and before March 1. Violating the law in DC is a class 4 infraction.

If you ask me, using lawn fertilizers is almost always a big waste of money and resources no matter what the date or legal details, because as the District Department of the Environment points out on their website, using a mulching mower can provide residents with a free source of fertilizer: grass clippings. “Grass clippings provide a natural and healthy fertilizer for a growing lawn. Studies have shown that leaving grass clipping reduces the need for fertilizers and mowing.”


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