Next to Lake or Stream

For Lawns

As of January 1, 2012, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Excerpt_ Act 451 of 1994 Part 85 Fertilizers), was amended to include several best management practices related to managing lawn fertilizer near lakes, streams, etc:

  • A person shall not apply fertilizer to turf less than 15 feet from any surface water, unless 1 or more of the following apply:
    • A continual natural vegetative buffer at least 10 feet wide separates the turf from the surface water.
    • A spreader guard, deflector shield, or drop spreader is used when applying the fertilizer, and the fertilizer is not applied less than 3 feet from the surface water.
  • A person shall not clean a fertilizer spread that is used to apply fertilizer to turf in a manner that allows wash water from the spreader to discharge directly into waters of the state, including, but not limited to, a drain.
  • A person who releases fertilizer on an impervious surface shall promptly contain the fertilizer AND either legally apply the fertilizer to turf or another appropriate site or return the fertilizer to an appropriate container.
  • A person shall not apply a fertilizer to turf if the soil is frozen or saturated with water.

For Other Crops — Gardening Tips to Preserve Water Quality

  • Consider using slow-release forms of nitrogen to preserve water quality. The portion of the slow-release nitrogen available in the fertilizer product is listed as Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN) on the label.
  • Leave a “no-fertilizer” buffer zone near lakes, rivers, and other bodies of surface water. The recommended width for “no fertilizer” buffers is 10 to 25 feet, depending on the slope. If you can’t create a 10-25 feet, create as wide of a buffer as you can.
  • Sweep up fertilizer from paved surfaces. Fertilizer left on sidewalks and driveways can easily wash into storm drains, rivers, and lakes. Sweep fertilizer from sidewalks back onto the lawn.
  • Practice “Integrated Pest Management.” There are usually several management options for solving any pest or disease problem. Use non-chemical approaches whenever possible first, saving pesticide use as the last line of defense. If the problem is concentrated in small areas of the garden, spot-treat the affected areas only.
  • Do not use combination products such as a weed and feed product which contains both fertilizer and pesticide(s).