The traditionally-maintained lawn is a source of stormwater runoff and pollution. Nutrients from fertilizer and even grass clippings can end up polluting our waterways and lowering water quality. We’d like to introduce you to some lake-friendly lawn alternatives:
Go for Groundcovers
You can replace your turfgrass but preserve a lawnlike function by using groundcovers like Pennsylvania Sedge, Wild Strawberry, Creeping Thyme, or White Clover. These species require less fertilizer than turfgrass and offer other benefits – like being a food source for birds and pollinators.
Less Lawn, More Landscaping
Consider reducing the size of your lawn and replacing it with perennial plants, shrubs, and trees. Not only can a mixed perennial garden be more efficient at filtering runoff, a diverse mix of plants promotes biodiversity.
Meadows support rich ecosystems, are visually attractive, and can still function as an open space for picnicking and games like a traditional lawn. Read more about establishing a meadow here:
Green Lawns, Clean Water
Properly managed lawns can be lake friendly too! Follow these steps to enjoy your lawn while limiting its affect on Newfound Lake.
Pick the Right Grass
There are different types of turfgrass for different kinds of environments. Choosing the right type of grass for your location reduces the amount of water, fertilizer, and maintenance it will require.
Fertilize using the right amount, at the right time, and with the right fertilizer to decrease the chance of your lawn’s fertilizer washing into our waterways. Use slow release nitrogen sources or scatter white clover seeds in your lawn, which naturally fix nitrogen in the soil. For the details on proper fertilizer application, read this article from UNH Cooperative Extension.
The Shoreline Water Quality Protection Act prohibits the use of any fertilizer within 25 feet of shorelines. Shorefront property owners should consult this NH Department of Environmental Services fact sheet for further important considerations on lawn care: Proper Lawn Care within the Protected Shoreland
Let Litter Lie
Leaving grass clippings and mulched leaf litter on your lawn is a great source of natural fertilizer. It decomposes quickly, feeding your lawn and replenishing soil nutrients. Make sure you maintain a buffer (see below) to keep composted lawn materials from washing into waterways.
Watch your Watering
Use a rain gauge to measure the water your lawn receives each week. Lawns can require up to an inch of water per week during the summer to remain green and healthy. Irrigating lightly but more frequently reduces runoff and nutrients leaching into groundwater.
Maintain a Buffer
Because lawns are sources of runoff pollution, it’s important to maintain a vegetated buffer between your lawn and the nearest waterways. Vegetated buffers can vary from well-maintained gardens to woodland and natural areas.
For more articles on ecologically friendly lawn care, check out these excellent resources and articles:
Ecological Landscape Alliance: Lawn Care
UNH Cooperative Extension: Landscaping for Water Quality