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Chesapeake Bay News


Question of the Week: Is it safe to use an organic fertilizer?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Tom: I recently purchased a house on the Potomac near the Chesapeake Bay and I want to fertilize the lawn this fall.  Is it safe to use an organic fertilizer?

Fertilizing your lawn in the fall rather than in the spring is a great step toward protecting the Bay. Many people believe the spring is the best time to fertilize, but heavy seasonal rainfall can actually wash fertilizers off your lawn and carry them into your local creek or stream. This polluted runoff, which contains nitrogen and phosphorus, fuels the growth of algae in the Chesapeake Bay. Algae blooms are harmful to fish, crabs, oysters and other species that call the Bay home.

Organic fertilizers are a safer choice to use on your lawn because they tend to release nutrients more slowly than regular fertilizers, thus reducing the pollution that could run off your lawn. A variety of organic fertilizers are available, made from all sorts of natural materials. Check out The Organic Gardener for more information.

One of the easiest ways to naturally fertilize your lawn is to recycle your grass clippings and compost the leaves that fall from your trees this time of year.

  • After mowing your lawn, instead of bagging up the clippings, leave them on the grass. The clippings will slowly break down and release up to half of your lawn’s nitrogen needs.
  • In autumn, as leaves cover your yard in a blanket of reds and oranges, consider mulching them with a lawn mower instead of raking and bagging them. Using leaves as a natural mulch for your lawn and garden will not only reduce nutrient pollution from fertilizer, but will cut back on the waste generated from lawn and leaf bags.

Visit our Help the Bay in Your Backyard page for more tips on how to fertilize your lawn for a healthy Bay.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose it for our Question of the Week!


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