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What Lawn Fertilizer Should I Use if I Live Near Long Lake?

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

I want a healthy lake, but I also want a healthy lawn. How do I get both? Excerpts from the Spring Long Lake Newsletter by Scott Minnick.

Food packaging

What encourages algae growth is excess nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, in the water from sources such as fertilizer runoff. Our lawn fertilizers contain nitrogen, and some contain phosphorous. These nutrients can ultimately wash out from our lawns and into the lake and are the major food source for algae. The more we feed it, the more it grows in the lake.

Weeds also grow in huge amounts, and in direct proportion to the level of nitrogen and phosphorous in the lake.

What kind of fertilizer should I use?

The “safer” kind of fertilizer to use (for lawn and lake) is a “slow release” organic fertilizer that contains no phosphorous. “Slow release” means that the nitrogen in the fertilizer is less than 50% water soluble, so it is less likely to run off of your lawn or plants and into the lake- even with the first couple of applications of water (rain or sprinkler). The nitrogen that is water insoluble will remain longer so that the grass can take it up over time. No phosphorous means there is no phosphorous in the product. While weeds and algae like nitrogen, they absolutely love phosphorous. So, it’s best to keep it out altogether. The only time you might apply small amounts of phosphorous is on a new lawn, to promote root growth. Some people like to use a small amount in the Fall to help root growth throughout the winter months, but in my experience, this is not necessary.

Notice there is no mention here of using a Weed and Feed type of fertilizer, or a fertilizer that contains a pesticide. If you make a general application of that on your lawn, the excess toxins will soon find their way into the lake.

What brands I should buy? Consider:

Dr. Earth Nitrogen Fertilizer (5-0-2)

Dr. Earth Super Natural (9-0-5)

Espoma Organic Lawn Food (15-0-5)

Ringer Lawn Restore (10-0-6)

Safer Brand Lawn Restore (9-0-2)



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