New England Regional Fertilizer and Management Recommendations for Lawns

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Because a large land area devoted to lawns in New England is located adjacent to pond, lake, river, and coastal shorelines, nutrient losses from lawns may contribute significantly to the degradation of receiving waters. Many coastal and inland aquatic ecosystems in New England have been documented as experiencing frequent algal blooms (eutrophication) that is attributable to nitrogen and/or phosphorus enrichment. These blooms can result in hypoxia (low water oxygen) causing death of desirable aquatic animals and plants. Algal blooms also may interfere with recreational activities on the water. Nitrogen (N) has been identified as the primary pollutant contributing to hypoxia in salt water and estuaries, and phosphorus (P) has been identified as the primary nutrient pollutant in fresh waters. In addition to surface water impairment, nutrient enrichment of groundwater is also of concern for environmental and human health reasons.

This document provides updated lawn fertilizer recommendations that are based on soil testing for pH, phosphorus and potassium, but since we lack a well-calibrated soil test for nitrogen, guidelines are provided based on maintenance levels, grass types and uses, and age of turf. Management guidelines regarding timing, applciation methods, and formulations are provided, with the intent of maintaining healthy grass while at the same time minimizing environmental risks.

Originally published by University of Connecticut as Turfgrass Nutrient Management Bulletin B-0100; Jan. 2008.

Full title: New England Regional Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fertilizer and Associated Management Practice Recommendations for Lawns Based on Water Quality Considerations