Lawn Best Practices to Protect Our Waterways

When it comes to keeping our water clean, we can all play a part.

Water is critical to all living things, including lawns and gardens. But what if caring for these greenspaces ends up damaging the very source? We all play a role in water conservation, but at Scotts, it's our duty to raise awareness about what impacts clean water, such as nutrient runoff from lawns.

With over 10,000 acres affected by toxic algae blooms, Long Island's marshlands are a leading example of what can happen when water is under serious threat. Read on to learn more about how we're working to improve water quality around Long Island, as well as how you can help protect waterways across America by caring for your lawn the right way.

Protecting the Long Island Ecosystem

The quality of the water surrounding Long Island is especially at risk. Excess nitrogen and stormwater runoff are creating algae blooms, which are polluting the drinking water and disrupting the health of an entire marine ecosystem—in an area that depends on fishing.

To help residents care for their lawns more sustainably and mitigate this critical issue, we developed Scotts® Turf Builder® Long Island Lawn Food. The product has been designed with less nitrogen and to work specifically with the area's maritime climate and sandy soil. To further our efforts, we're giving 100 percent of the profits from the sale of Scotts® Turf Builder® Long Island Lawn Food to non-profit organizations working to upgrade residents' septic systems, and will continue through 2023.

We're also helping local kids get a hands-on understanding of their coastal ecosystem. Our partnership with the North Shore Land Alliance Long Island Water Education Program gives middle-school children the opportunity to build a mini aquifer, study precipitation and runoff, and learn about water conservation through field trips.

Protecting Ecosystems at Home

We hope you use our products with the same care as we put into making them. Follow these 6 tips to care for your lawn the right way, and you'll have stronger grass and help protect the waterways connecting us all.

1. Fertilize at the Right Time

Lawns should be fed multiple times a year. Fertilizing at the right time is important to the overall growth and health of your lawn and the effectiveness of the product. Feedings should be spaced at least 6 weeks apart. A properly fed lawn requires less water, grows thicker to help prevent weeds from invading, and can even reduce the ambient temperature around your home.

2. Check the Label before Applying

Before applying any product to your lawn, always read and follow the directions on the package. Some lawn products should be applied to a dry lawn while others need to be applied when the lawn is wet.

3. Apply the Product Correctly

Always use the spreader setting listed on the package. The proper spreader setting helps ensure you will not over-apply. Use a spreader with a side guard deflector to help keep product off sidewalks and driveways and out of storm drains.

4. Keep Nutrients out of Waterways

Always keep grass clippings, pet waste, and lawn fertilizers away from sewers, rivers, lakes, and streams. Sweep leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizer off driveways and sidewalks and back into the grass to help keep nutrients where they are needed and out of waterways. If your lawn borders water, keep fertilizer away from the water's edge. Create a buffer zone with uncut grass or other vegetation, such as native grasses and flowers, to help protect against soil erosion and runoff.

5. Use Smart Irrigation

Upgrading to a smart irrigation controller can significantly reduce your water use while still providing your lawn with the right amount it needs. Smart controllers monitor the weather and can change the watering schedule when Mother Nature lends a hand. This lessens the likelihood of fertilizer runoff due to overwatering. Regularly inspect your sprinkler heads to make sure they are not damaged or malfunctioning, and adjust sprinklers so they are not spraying on paved surfaces like sidewalks or driveways.

6. Change Your Mowing Habits

Even changing your mowing habits can impact your grass below the soil. Setting your mower at one of its highest settings will help your lawn's roots grow deeper, so they can better reach more water and nutrients. Taller grass with its deeper roots also better withstands traffic, heat and drought.

When it comes to keeping our water clean, we can all play a part by caring for our lawns in a more mindful way—small changes add up. And at Scotts, we'll continue to keep clean water our number-one priority to help support healthier communities, and lawns, all across the country.

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