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Less-is-More When Fertilizing Your Lawn

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Less-is-More When It Comes to Fertilizing Your Lawn

(Hampton Roads, Va., April 14, 2016) – To fertilize your lawn, or not to fertilize? That is the question, now that days are warmer, longer and the great outdoors is everyone’s favorite gathering spot. Before digging in to your normal lawn and garden routines, encourages Hampton Roads residents to think more about the effects of over-fertilizing and a little less about having a picture perfect yard.

“Your yard is an extension of your home and you like for it to have curb appeal, but it’s also one of the greatest ways to protect the health of our environment by filtering out stormwater pollution before it enters our local waterways,” said Julia B. Hillegass, team leader for the, a region-wide public service initiative.

When an over-abundance of nitrogen and phosphorus is applied to your yard, it does not get absorbed into the lawn but gets washed by the rain into storm drains and then carried along to waterways that reach the Chesapeake Bay. The polluted runoff causes “dead zones” that deplete oxygen and literally suffocate fish, crabs and oysters. It fuels the growth of dense algal blooms that prevent sunlight from reaching underwater grasses that shelter and feed aquatic life, and it can make the water smelly and unsuitable for swimming and boating.

Fertilizing your lawn may not be necessary at all, said Hillegass, who recommends residents test their soil first to see what nutrients are needed. Inexpensive soil test kits are available at most home and garden stores, and some Hampton Roads localities provide the kits for free during seasonal promotions. Simply fill the small cardboard box with soil samples from different parts of your yard, return to the vendor and wait for the results which will tell you what amendments (if any) are needed for your yard.

In addition, organic fertilizing is growing in popularity as an alternative to the off-the-shelf bag of chemicals. Many gardening enthusiasts apply compost, grass clippings, mulched yard debris and other natural sources of fertilizers.

Finally, there’s the laid back way to have a beautiful yard – simply wait for Mother Nature to work her magic. April showers typically green up any lawn naturally, and who cares if there are few surprises.

“I’ll take clover and dandelions any day, if it helps contribute to a clean and healthy Hampton Roads,” said Hillegass.

For more information about fertilizer use and soil testing, just

About is your go-to resource for all things green in Hampton Roads— from recycling tips and pointers for keeping local waterways clean to water-saving ideas and simple steps to make local living easy on the environment. Launched in 2011, the region-wide public awareness and education campaign is administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and powered by the following members: The cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg; the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; the Town of Smithfield; and HRSD. Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter, tune in to YouTube and catch the “Let’s Talk Green” blog, written by a team of local experts.