“Green” Yards

With help from the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, you can maintain lush “green” yards and be more environmentally-friendly at the same time. There are many things you can do to around your yard to protect the environment and keep our streams and lakes clean. Below are three basic things to consider when working on your lawn and garden. For more tips on what you can do around your home, visit bcwater.org.

Here are some tips to consider:

Most lawns don’t need any extra phosphorus, plus, it’s the law.

Use phosphorus-free fertilizer on your lawn unless you’re growing new grass or a soil test shows your lawn does not have enough.

In 2012, the State of Michigan enacted a ban on the use of phosphorus containing fertilizer to curb water quality problems in our state, which helps protect inland lakes and stream and preserves the beauty of the Great Lakes.

Phosphorus-free Kalamazoo River Watershed CouncilLook for the zero in the middle on the bag.

More Tips:

  • Fertilize in fall for best results
  • If you must, be patient in the spring – wait until May
  • Don’t fertilize frozen or saturated ground
  • Confirm spreader settings and spray out spreader in the grass, avoiding hard surfaces
  • Never spread near lakes, rivers, streams, and storm drains

Phosphorus fertilizer ban info (pdf)
Phosphorus-free flyer (pdf)
Lawn soil testing options and info

Even Better!

Skip the fertilizer all together!

Good for You!

No time spent behind the ol’ spreader and big cost savings.

Good for Everyone!

When excess phosphorus gets washed into lakes and streams it can wreak havoc, causing algae blooms, and killing fish – lowering the amount running off your lawn helps keep our water clear.

Using non-invasive ground cover and a variety of plants is a great alternative to mowed turf grass.

Transitioning your turf grass lawn to more garden beds filled with perennials, shrubs and trees helps the environment in a number of ways. Plants local to Michigan (called native plants) require less watering, prevent erosion, provide wildlife habitat, and help filter pollutants from stormwater. Sound like a big job? Don’t worry; more plants and less lawn is a long-term goal. By expanding a small garden bed or adding a new one each year, you can help protect the environment.

Steps You Can Take:

Have a soggy spot in your lawn, wet basement from your downspout, or a slippery area on your walkway each winter? Get help designing a rain garden that can solve these problems and clean the water coming off of your roof and driveway.

Landscaping for water quality (pdf)
Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership
MSU Invasive Plant Field Guide (pdf)
Wild Ones local native plant exchange events

Even Better!

Pick plant varieties that are local to Michigan (called “native” plants).

Good for You!

Less mowing! Need we say more?!

Good for Everyone!

Native plants have great roots that soak up water and resist drought, all while providing food and shelter for wildlife.

Sweep grass clippings, dirt, and debris into the lawn or compost.

Dealing with grass clippings and leaves are a normal part of lawn care maintenance. Consider the tips below to deal with the waste in an environmentally friendly way. Keeping lawn debris off of drives and walkways is important to keep it out of the storm drain the next time it rains. Better yet, consider using permeable surfaces that allow rain water to soak through and into the soil below.

Want to see permeable pavement in action?

Important Lawn Care Tips:

  • Mow high. Recycle lawn clippings mow at least 3” high and return clipping to the lawn to recycle nutrients.
  • Sweep or blow clippings from walks and driveways back onto the lawn.
  • Taller grass crowds out weeds and promotes deeper roots that can survive dry periods.
  • Consider composting lawn waste and debris.
Get involved with the KWRC outside of your own yard by attending one of our many events!