Tips for a Lush, Green, Envy-of-the-Neighborhood Lawn

 In Water Pollution Control

By Drew Wallace, Program Coordinator, Water Pollution Control

We all want to have the best lawn in the neighborhood. Doing so takes time, patience and a little know-how. By using herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers the correct way, you can achieve a nice, lush, green lawn and prevent these chemicals from traveling into local stormwater inlets and waterways. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you strive to be environmentally-responsible in your landscaping and lawn grooming:


  • Keep grass at the optimum height of 3 inches—this helps shade the roots and keep the ground moist longer.
  • Do not bag the clippings as they contain some nitrogen, which aids in fertilizing your lawn.
  • Keep the mower blade sharp. If the tip of your grass looks jagged or browning after a mow, it is time to sharpen the blade.


  • Do deep watering less frequently—it will help the roots.
  • Water one inch per week by rain or sprinkler.
  • Water before 10 a.m. Watering in the evening or at night can cause the ground to stay moist all night, promoting mold growth.

Weeds and Pests

  • Correctly identify the problem and try non-chemical control methods first.
  • If using chemicals, consider spot treating only the affected area.
  • Read all labels and Instructions before you use chemicals—more is not better


Fertilizers can harm the environment because they contain a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen. Additionally, they can promote algae growth if washed into a body of water that can cause harm to aquatic wildlife and plants.

  • Apply fertilizers after a rain or watering the lawn so they are not washed off the lawn with stormwater runoff.
  • Try and use fertilizers that are not water soluble. Water soluble fertilizers like synthetics tend to run off as soon as they are hit with water.
  • Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s recommended application on the bag. Some weed and feed fertilizers must be applied to the lawn when it is moist. This aids in the weed kill, as the herbicide will stick to the moist weed and be absorbed.


Over time, your lawn can become overly compacted. If you are a DIY person, you can rent an aerator at your local rental facility, or you can hire a landscaper to do this for you. Aeration extracts plugs from your soil allow roots to get the much-needed nutrients, water and oxygen they need to grow strong and deep. For more information on aeration, visit

Controlling Runoff

  • Prevent erosion on your property by slowing down the water and allowing it to filter into the soil by:
  • Using rain barrels at your downspouts. The Auburn Water Pollution Control Plant conducts rain barrel workshops in conjunction with DeKalb Soil and Water Conservation two times per year.
  • Planting native plants in a raingarden around your property. DeKalb Soil and Water Conservation has a Rain Garden Cost Share Program. Contact them at 260-925-5620 extension 3 for more information.

Find more tips at For additional information regarding your local storm water issues or programs, contact Drew Wallace, Program Coordinator at the City of Auburn Water Pollution Control, at 260-925-1714 or

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