Well-managed lawns and landscaping are good for the environment as well as being attractive. Bad management, however, can negate a lot of the environmental benefits, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
To be a "best manager" for your lawn and landscape, Koske says to follow these rules:
- Choose the proper fertilizer for your plants and for the time of year you are applying. Unnecessary or excess nutrients are wasted and may cause undesirable growth. Where might that excess fertilizer go? "The answer causes us much concern," the LSU AgCenter horticulturist says.
- Read and follow the formulator’s recommendations for proper use. Buy only things you either know how to use properly or that have complete directions for use.
- Know how to use your application equipment properly, and calibrate it for accurate and even application. This includes proper clean-out of materials. Most materials and excess spray should be applied to the land for biofiltration, washed and cleaned over turf - not the driveway or recaptured back into the original container if appropriate to do. Some herbicide residues may require neutralization with diluted household ammonia or bleach.
- Blow or sweep granular materials and grass clippings back into the lawn; better there than in the gutters or drains, where they can pollute the water.
- Keep street and roof gutters clean of leaves. Nutrients in the leaves will compost out and leach out only to follow the water’s path to your local bayou or lake.
- Choose the lowest impact pest control material that will do the job and use it correctly. First, identify the pest and find what controls it. Choose the least toxic material that will control that pest. Using too little or an ineffective material is just putting chemical into the environment for nothing. You can enhance your environment with the proper use of appropriate pesticides. More is not always better and sometimes lethal. Your local LSU AgCenter county agent can help you with your choices.
- Keep a good ground cover, develop thick turf or mulch well. Soils may trap many things, but bare ground can wash away as muddy water. Suspended soil particles can easily carry phosphorous, other nutrients or pesticides into your local bayous or lakes.
- Watch your pets, livestock and waterfowl. A single goose can release nearly 2 pounds of phosphorous each year. Avoid feeding or attracting flocks of waterfowl and properly dispose of or have a special compost pile for animal waste.
By being a "best manager," you’ll restrict the unwanted spread of environmentally stressing materials, Koske says.