Cornell Home Gardening Website

Cornell Turfgrass Program

Cornell Cooperative Ext. Growline
Plattsburgh: (518) 561-7450 Westport: (518) 962-4810 or

Vermont Master Gardener Helpline
(800) 639-2230

New England Regional Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fertilizer and Associated Management Practice Recommendations (U. of Connecticut)


Cornell Nutrient Analysis Labs
(607) 255-4540

University of Vermont Extension
(802) 656-3030

girl running across lawn


Follow these easy tips for a beautiful green lawn, not a green lake! If you want to learn even more about creating healthier, lake-friendly lawns, check out the resources on the left.

  • Click for brochure.Raising the blade on your mower to 3 inches maintains longer grass that shades out weeds and retains moisture in the soil. Longer grass also means deeper roots which aerate the soil and improves its ability to hold the rainwater.

  • Clippings are natural fertilizer. Leaving the clippings not only creates a healthier lawn, it eliminates raking and emptying the mower bag, giving you more time to enjoy other summer activities!

  • Removing only 1/3 of the grass blade when you mow reduces the stress to your lawn, keeping it greener and more drought resistant throughout the season.


More tips...


  • Only with phosphorus-free fertilizers. Most northeastern lawns and 75% of Chittenden County VT lawns tested by the University had enough phosphorus (P) and only need nitrogen (N)! A soil survey of St. Albans, VT also showed excessive levels of phosphorus there. Similar results have been found for upstate NY.

  • Apply fertilizer once/year—the best time for this region is early fall.

  • Sweep up fertilizer from sidewalks and driveways. Don’t fertilize before heavy rain.

Look for the middle number...
bag of fertilizer

  • On fertilizer bags to see the N-P-K nutrient analysis. The middle number is the phosphate (phosphorus) content. A “zero” in the middle means it is phosphorus-free. Lawns rarely need extra potassium (K), but adding some does not affect water quality.

Take a soil test...

  • If you are seeding a new lawn, or want to learn more about your lawn’s nutrient content, pH level and organic content.


  • If desired, in early morning, when there is less than 1 inch/week of rain. Grass will survive droughts without watering by going dormant.

Plant grass seed...

  • On existing lawns in the fall and spring to out compete weeds.

  • Use a grass mixture that does well in the setting (soil, light, activity).

  • Leave legumes, such as common white clover, among the grass to add nitrogen, which will naturally fertilize your lawn.


  • By removing small cores of soil from your lawn to prevent compaction. This will increase water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil; improve grass rooting; and prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off.


  • Will be discouraged by following these healthy lawn tips! Just pull any that are left by hand.
grass with dew
website by Lake Champlain Basin Program