Lawn & Garden
Good Fertilizing Practices
- When using fertilizer and applying it with a spreader, clean it after each use—over a grassy area well away from the storm sewer.
- Fall fertilizing is best for healthy lawn growth.
- Test the soil to see whether fertilizer is needed and apply only what’s needed.
Good Lawn Practices
- Grow the mix of grass varieties for our area—fescues, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass, in descending order of quantity.
- Mow to two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half inches.
- Sharpen mower blades frequently, and avoid cutting more than 1/3 the length of the grass at one mowing.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn, spreading out clumps; the clippings will disappear after giving up their moisture and nitrogen.
- Try lawn weed control measures based on good mowing, watering and nutrient-monitoring practices. If hand digging and other efforts—including tolerance—have failed, pursue the least-toxic practices and remedies.
- Lawn watering guide
Good Planting Practices
- Plant native plants. Native plants are tolerant to variations in local climate and generally need little watering, fertilizer, pesticides or mowing. To learn more, visit UW Extension, Landscape Plants of the Upper Midwest.
- Group plants that have similar cultural needs to make the most of resources and your time.
Collect rain water in a rain barrel
- Water that runs off hard surfaces such as the roof can be collected and reused to water plants. Rain water is “soft,” without groundwater minerals or added chlorine or fluoride, so it is more plant-friendly than tap water. Capturing water from gutters and downspouts in a well-designed rain barrel conserves the municipal supply while providing the best water for lawn and garden. The City's Streets and Recycling Department sells rain barrels in the spring.
Insects and Pests
- Know which insects are beneficial, which are actually damaging plants and which are just passing through; again, pursue the least-persistent and least-toxic remedies. Have you tried hand (or glove) picking? Insecticidal soap? Dish soap and oil in water sprayed on shelled insects? isopropyl alcohol on aphids? a 1:9 milk:water solution to kill plant mildew?