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Lake Friendly Lawn Care, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2017.
Lake Friendly Lawn Care

Preamble:  "Lake Friendly" lawn care is very similar to "regular" common sense lawn care.  The difference is two-fold; first, the presence of an obvious target, which is your nearby lake. Secondly, a heightened sensitivity by lake property owners of the vulnerability of their site.

That said, here are good practices that will help prevent lake pollution from chemical run-off. 

  1. Encourage water infiltration, not runoff with these seven practices.
    • Soil modification
    • Core aeration
    • Reduce slope
    • Delayed irrigation starts
    • Reduce thatch
    • Conduct an irrigation audit
    • Use a broom or blower to move fertilizer particles back to the lawn and off the   sidewalk, driveway or street
  2. Use a lighter application of slow-release Nitrogen
    • Use turf math to apply lighter amounts than called for on the fertilizer bag label. Begin by dividing the amount of nitrogen you want to apply (in pounds) by the % nitrogen in the product. This gives you the amount of product to use per 1,000 sq. ft.  
    • For example, you're using a fertilizer containing 28% nitrogen and you want to apply 0.5 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq.ft.
    • Divide 0.5 lb N by 0.28. This gives you 1.78 lbs of product to be applied for every 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn
    • Don't apply phosphorous unless a need has been established through a soil test.
  3. Rhizomatous species of turf have more capacity to prevent pollution
    • More thatch and mat exists to retain applied nutrients
  4. Thin turf stands allow more runoff
    • Overseed thin grass stands. 
    • Don't overfertilize or underfertilize. Use the holiday schedule for fertilizer applications for both warm and cool season turf species.
      • Warm season grasses (Buffalograss & Zoysiagrass) - Memorial Day, 4th of July
      • Cool season grasses (Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass & Turf Type Tall Fescue) - Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day
John Fech
John Fech
Extension Educator - Horticulture
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.

Contact John at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804

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