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Lawn & Yard Care - Pollution Prevention

Here are some tips for lawn and yard care that will help keep your yard healthy and reduce stormwater pollution. 

Test your soil for pH and nutrients.

  • Applying more fertilizer than you need is a waste of your money. Extra nutrients wash into storm drains and pollute local streams. 
  • Soil testing involves three steps: 1) obtain a box and instructions for mailing a soil sample, 2) gather samples of soil from around the yard, 3) send the kit in for testing, and 4) receive results.
  • Request a soil test box and instructions from the Mecklenburg County Soil & Water Conservation District (704)336-2455 or the Mecklenburg County Extension office (704) 336-2082.

Keep your soil healthy.

  • Healthy soil prevents the need to apply fertilizer or chemicals to keep weeds and pests away.
  • Add compost and organic fertilizer to the garden each year.
  • For lawns, aerate soil, overseed, and top-dress with compost.

Mow grass 2 inches or higher. 

  • Longer grass blades equal deeper roots and a healthier lawn.
  • Lawns cut to less than 2 inches are more susceptible to weeds and then need more chemicals for weed control.

Use grass clippings and/or slow-release fertilizers.

  • Clippings left on the lawn decompose quickly and are a natural fertilizer.
  • Clippings left on the lawn do not cause crabgrass.
  • Use slow-release fertilizers if you need an artificial fertilizer.

Use physical controls for pests; not chemical ones.

  • Thick layers of mulch, compost or bark prevent weeds.
  • Traps, like sticky wraps or pheromone bags, for pest control.
  • Barriers and screens, like floating row covers, seedling collars and cheesecloth, block pests from getting to plants.
  • Biological controls: 
    • Milky spore, a natural disease, to get rid of Japanese beetles
    • Beneficial insects, like ladybugs, green lacewings, predatory mites and parasitic nematodes, will eat other insects and not our plants.
  • Natural products:
    • Horticultural oils. Best for ornamental plants.
    • Insecticidal soap. It controls aphids, mites and whiteflies.
    • N​eem seed extract. It works as a repellant, growth regulator and insect poison.
    • ​Diatomaceous earth. It is used for insect and mite management.

Reduce the lawn and add native plants.

  • Lawns require more care, nutrients, chemicals and water than native trees, ground covers, bushes and plants. 
  • Native trees are more resistant to local pests and diseases, and require less care, chemicals and water than exotic varieties. Native Tree List

Plant ground cover on slopes.

  • Ground cover on slopes controls erosion better than grass reducing the chance of weeds or need for herbicides.

Prune Plants.

  • Healthy plants require less chemicals and nutrients.
  • Prune plants so they can best use energy sources.
  • Shear off dead or diseased portions. They are more attractive to pests.

Lawn​ ​Care Maintenance Industry ​Fact Sheet