Fertilizer Use and Lawn Care

Most lawns and gardens in Vermont do not need fertilizer. Don’t guess, soil test! Testing your soil is easy and determines whether your soil needs any supplements at all. Unnecessary use of fertilizers and pesticides contribute to water pollution when they wash off and make their way into our storm water system. So when you fertilize without needing to, you actually help things grow in the lake instead of in your lawn or garden.

Helpful Tips

  • Apply fertilizers in the fall, around Labor Day, not in the spring!
  • Be sure to use phosphorous-free supplements when needed.
  • Do not apply fertilizers or pesticides before rain is forecast.
  • Don’t over water your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Use organic or non-toxic pesticides and fertilizers as directed, and keep them away from ditches, gutters and storm drains. Store them in a covered area, off the ground, to prevent contact with water.
  • Compost and mulch yard waste. Don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams.
  • Don’t blow, sweep, rake or hose yard waste into the street gutter or storm drain.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn or compost them.

Learn More

To learn more lawn care tips that keep your lawn green while protecting our waters and Lake Champlain, check out http://www.lawntolake.org/

Check out this link to learn more tips for rural homes and waterways.

Low Impact Development Technical Assistance for Residents

These web pages provides resources for individuals and groups that are interested in implementing rain-friendly practices at their residences in Chittenden County which will help protect our streams, rivers, and Lake Champlain.

There is great deal of information available on the Internet.  We’ve tried to collect source materials that are most suitable to Vermont.


For homeowners, a booklet produced in 2010 by the Lake Champlain Sea Grant and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation provides a great introduction to the topic as well as introducing some basic technologies.

Click on the link at right to download a PDF       SeaGrantBooklet_AbsorbTheStorm_Feb_2010

As you can see the basic principle is to “slow the flow” of stormwater off your property into city/town roads through 3 types of techniques:

-infiltration-                 storage and re-use-                       -evapotranspiration-



Hopefully the SeaGrant brochure whetted your appetite to learn more. Here’s an overview of the different techniques and technologies that have been developed over the years. The State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) categorizes these techniques as Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI).

Click on the link below to download a helpful primer produced by ANR on GSI.


Now that you’ve learned about GSI techniques, you may wish to get started with some of the simplest techniques for homeowner to “slow the flow”: rain barrels and rain gardens.

Rain Barrels 


Click here to learn more about rain barrels

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a bit more elaborate. Instead of capturing the water in a barrel, water is directed towards a shallow depression full of native plants. This keeps runoff out of streets and also beautifies one’s property.  Fortunately, folks in Vermont have been thinking about this issue for a long time and have developed the Vermont Rain Garden Manual that provides details on how to build a rain garden and which plants are best suited.

Click this link to download the Vermont Rain Garden Manual VTRainGardenManual_Full


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