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Healthy Lawn Care for Watershed Protection

February: The snow may be coming down outside, but for many people now’s the time to select your lawn care company. Here are some tips to do it right for your Rouge River.

1. If you’re going to hire a company to manage your lawn, one place to start might be the businesses certified through the Healthy Lawn Care Program for Watershed Protection. If your current company is not certified, tell them (politely) to get with the program! Learn more at http://www.landscape.org/healthylawn

2. If you manage your lawn yourself, learn how you can save time and money through basic healthy lawn care practices. Check out the Healthy Lawn Care Checklist, or read on below.
  • Mow at your mower’s highest setting, 3.5″ or higher (press here to learn more from MSU Extension). You’ll mow less often and the lawn will develop deeper roots that help it compete against weeds.
  • Mulch fall leaves into the lawn (press here to learn more from MSU Extension). Nature provides free fertilizer every year in the form of leaves. Every year we work hard hauling it away, and then we pay to add granular fertilizers that pollute the Great Lakes.
  • Aerate compacted soil using a core aerator. By removing plugs of soil, aeration allows lawns to drain more quickly, and helps the grass better absorb nutrients. You can rent one for next to nothing. (press here to learn more)
Rain Garden Before and After: These Canton, MI residents solved common lawn problems with icy sidewalks and soggy grass by building two rain gardens.

3. Get your lawn a job! Put your lawn to work solving problems great and small.

  • If you have gutter downspouts that outlet to your driveway or sidewalk—creating icy hazards in the winter—redirect those downspouts to your lawn.
  • Shrink your lawn! The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offer great tips on how to get started: https://content.yardmap.org/learn/removing-lawn-to-make-way-for-more-habitat/
  • Better yet, build a rain garden! A garden that looks like most any other, a rain garden is carefully designed to soak up the rain. Rain gardens protect homes against flooding and help keep our drinking water safe. Visit TheRouge.org/RainSmart to learn more.