Healthy Lawn Tips

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 Related Links in the sidebar.

Don’t “P”


  • Only with phosphorus-free fertilizers. Most northeastern lawns and 75% of lawns in Chittenden County, Vermont 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.

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.

Look for the middle number

  • 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.


Raise the blade

Mow Higher

  • 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.


General Tips

Reduce lawn size

  • Reducing the size of your lawn can help improve water quality and biodiversity. Other ground cover, such as native trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, can increase the amount of water that soaks in and support pollinators, insects and birds.


  • 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.

More lake-friendly tips

  • The little things add up. On your boat, under your car, or under your kitchen sink, these tips can help reduce the pollution you release into the Lake. Get Save the Lake Tips >>