Healthy Lawn Tips
Healthy Lawn Tips
Insect Control Tips
Mulching and Composting
This section has been
prepared in cooperation with SOCRRA (Southeastern Oakland County
Resource Recovery Authority). The practices recommended have been
identified in cooperation with Oakland County MSU Extension, Wayne
County MSU Extension, and the Metropolitan Detroit Landscape Association.
When soils and plants are healthy, plants naturally resist disease
and pests -- allowing gardeners and lawnowners to reduce (or avoid)
the use of pesticides and quick-release fertilizers. Healthy lawn
and garden practices often save homeowners time and effort in the
long-run and promote a beautiful landscape.
Healthy lawn and garden principles were developed by professionals
familiar with excellent horticulture practices. . . and with knowledge
of Southeast Michigan soils and growing conditions. The principles
apply to all types of plants. More specific practices have been
identified for lawns, gardens, trees, and other landscape areas.
Lawn care tips and gardening tips are presented in this section.
Healthy Lawn and Garden Principles
Principle #1 Build fertile soils with organic matter.
Principle #2 Select plants suited for the site and climate
conditions -- expand your understanding of "Right Plant in
the Right Place."
Principle #3 Plant for diversity -- to encourage beneficial
insets and pest resistance.
Principle #4 Provide nutrients and water to sustain healthy
Principle #5 Recycle yard clippings on site.
Principle #6 Minimize the use of insecticides, herbicides,
and other pesticides. Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Healthy Lawn Tips--Feed your lawn
. . . with grass clippings! Plants need certain nutrients to grow
and many times we think fertilizer is the only solution. Think again.
Grass clippings contain valuable nutrients and can decompose quickly
into the soil. With grass recycling, artificial fertilizers can
be significantly reduced -- by 30% to 40% or more. Mix extra grass
clippings with leaves and soil to make a backyard compost pile (see
section on composting) or use the clippings as a garden mulch.
Tips for grass recycling
Set mower blade at the highest setting, leaving grass blades 3
inches tall if possible. Tall grass encourages deep roots and also
shades out crabgrass and low-growing weeds.
Cut no more than the top 1/3 of the grass blade.
Let the short grass blades fall back onto the lawn.
Sharpen mower blades several times during the growing season. A
dull mower blade will tear grass and provide entry port for diseases.
Only mow when the grass is dry.
Our lawns can pollute the Rouge. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides
may be the solutions for a beautiful lawn and garden, but they can
cause environmental problems to the river. Fertilizers contain nitrogen
and phosphorus, two elements which increase plant growth in water
as well as on land. When fertilizer gets into the river, it can
cause excess plant and algae growth which robs the oxygen from the
water, causing fish and other aquatic life to suffocate and die!
Select slow--release fertilizers to gradually feed plants. These
products should contain little or no phosphorus. The numbers on
the labels of fertilizers will help you identify which are low in
phosphorus. The numbers indicate the percentages of nitrogen-phosphorous-and
potassium as potash. Low phosphorous brands have ratings on their
labels such as 23-0-6, 30-4-4 or 26-4-4.Fertilizers containing abundant
nitrogen (46-0-0, 33-0-0) are not recommended because they are highly
soluble and can readily wash away or enter groundwater
All lawns in Michigan require 0.5 to 1.5 inches of water per week.
That means only a 10-15 minute watering during dry weather for many
home sprinkling systems.
Water lightly and frequently. Grass roots are short (often less
than 4" long) and can't absorb the excess water. Light, frequent
watering also reduces the stress to the grass plant, which reduces
the potential for disease and insect damage.
Water sparingly after any fertilizer application to avoid causing
Fertilize in September or October to promote root growth rather
than top growth. Deep roots withstand drought and resist disease.
Strong roots store food produced in the grass blades for use in
early spring. Use fertilizers sparingly. Over fertilizing actually
encourages certain insects and diseases and increases maintenance
Separate fertilizers from pesticides. "Weed and feed"
combined products often add unnecessary herbicides to the landscape.
Use compost as an alternative to fertilizer. Compost contributes
organic matter and gradually releases nutrients to the soil.
Do not apply fertilizer within 50 feet of a water body, including
streams, ponds and impoundments.
Avoid applying fertilizer to paved surfaces. If any fertilizer
is spread on sidewalks or driveways, sweep it off before watering
Tips for choosing a lawn care service
Ask neighbors and friends who have dealt with the company if they
were satisfied with the service they received. Call the Michigan
Department of Agriculture at (517) 373-1087 to see if the company
has a history of violations.
Make sure the company is affiliated with a professional lawn care
association. This helps members stay informed of new developments
in the lawn care field.
Find out if the company uses integrated pest management, or "IPM",
an approach that reduces pesticide use by combining it with other,
non-chemical methods of pest control. The company should readily
supply you with information on the types of pesticides it applies
to your lawn, and what health and environmental risks may be presented
by their use.
Get Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF files
the Individual Actions Page