Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Ripple Effects

Healthy Lawns

By properly mowing, mulching, and composting leaves and grass clippings, you can reduce fertilizing, watering, and weeding. Grass clippings allowed to remain on lawns instead of being raked or bagged provide nutrients for your turf. Even pests become less of a problem if more "natural diversity" in plantings is used-as opposed to typical urban uniformity-so that susceptible plants are grown farther apart. 

Tips for Managing a Healthy Lawn

  • Mow only those areas that you use on a regular basis. If there are areas of your yard you don’t physically go to, consider landscaping that area with native plants instead of turf.
  • If you have natural or "wild" areas on your property, think twice before deciding to convert them to turf or traditional landscaped areas. Natural areas usually require less time and money to maintain than formal landscapes, and are usually the best at preventing water pollution from runoff. This is especially important for waterfront property.
  • Adjust your mower to a height of at least two and half inches or more.
  • Mow with a sharp blade frequently enough that you can leave grass clippings on the lawn and don’t have to rake.
  • Mulch bare soil as soon as possible to minimize erosion. Disturb no more ground than necessary for a project, while preserving existing vegetation.
  • Aerate compacted soils and apply compost to improve soils, promote infiltration and help grow a thicker, healthier lawn.
  • Get soil tested before applying fertilizers and herbicides to determine what your lawn needs. 
  • If using fertilizers or herbicides, make sure to follow instructions on the label. Timing is everything. Applying the right amount of fertilizers or herbicides at the right time of year when it's most effective can help you minimize use and save you money.
  • Use no-phosphorus fertilizer. Fertilizer labels include three numbers N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium). Make sure the middle number is 0. Most WI lawns do not need additional phosphorus which can runoff and pollute our waters causing excessive algal growth. 

Helpful Resources

For more information about waterfront landscapes specifically, visit the resources below: