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Page 6 - Lawn and Yard Stewardship


Most lawn fertilizers contain three minerals, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  The sandy soils in the Spring Lake Watershed are generally phosphorus-rich, making phosphorus application unnecessary.  Phosphorus is one of the key nutrients causing lake over-enrichment.  A sampling of your soil can be tested by MSU Extension at 333 Clinton, Grand Haven (616-846-8250) for a minimal fee.  When fertilizer is necessary, consider using fertilizers with no soluble phosphorus and little nitrogen.  For the past five years Spring Lake Country Club has been an example of quality turf with minimal phosphate use. 


Read pesticide and herbicide directions.  Apply only the amount directed by the label and store pesticides far from wells, streams, wetlands or other water bodies.  DO NOT apply when rain is expected.  Take care not to apply pesticides and herbicides on sidewalks or driveways where it will be washed away with the surface water runoff into the storm drainage systems and then directly into our lakes and streams.  If you use a lawn company, require that the company perform a soil test before applying fertilizers or pesticides, and use phosphorus-free fertilizers. 


Overwatering can leach nutrients from the soil and created runoff, which can cause nutrients to migrate into water bodies. 


Keep the edge or banks of water bodies stabilized with plant growth, preferably native species which have the ability to protect waterways by filtering migrating pollutants, nutrients and soil.  The more footage that can be reserved for the buffer area the better.  A width of 10 to 30 feet will increase stabilization, improve bird and animal habitat, decrease Canada geese usage, and enhance aesthetics.  


Dumping of yard wastes into water bodies is illegal according to state and local law.  These wastes, including leaves, grass clippings and branches, when discarded in the water or along the banks of water bodies can cause two problems: 1) as these wastes decompose, oxygen in the water is depleted, diminishing the quality of fish and other aquatic life; 2) these wastes add nutrients to the water which can result in excessive growth of undesirable aquatic plants and algae blooms. 

Compost away from the shoreline and direct runoff areas.  If you rake nuisance aquatic weeds, the plants need to be placed on the compost pile.  Aquatic weeds if left on a dock or the shoreline will begin to decompose and leach nutrients back into the water. 


Seawalls should be constructed only at points of severe bank erosion.  The type of seawall selected can have significant impacts on wave action, erosion control or wildlife habitat.  Federal, state or local permits may be required for seawall installation or reconstruction.

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