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Beyond No Mow May: Year-Round Tips for Lake-Friendly Lawn Care

Do you have a lawn? Have you heard of “No Mow May?” This trend encourages people not to mow their lawns to help create habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies. But why limit the benefits to just one month? Here’s how this concept can be a year-round game-changer for both your lawn and our lakes.

The vegetation in lawns is essential to lake health. Plants and their roots protect and stabilize soil, remove pollutants, soak up water, and create habitat for wildlife. (Learn about vegetation in our previous blog post, Plant Your Property for Healthier Lakes.

Turn your lawn into a lake-friendly asset! A beautiful lawn doesn’t have to be a uniform shade of green and length. Different colors and textures make a lawn more eye-catching and friendlier to our lakes. Taking care of your lawn in a lake-friendly way will reduce the work (and money!) needed to maintain it. 

Here are some lawn care tips to help transform your property into a lake-friendly paradise, whether you live along the lake or miles from it:

Consider transitioning to a natural lawn landscape. Think beyond traditional grass and incorporate groundcovers like clover, violets, dandelions, and ajuga. Natural lawns soak up runoff water like a sponge, provide food and habitat for many plants and animals, and are resilient to pests and climate change. If you see species besides grass popping up in your lawn, embrace them! They’re growing there for a reason.

Let your grass grow longer. Longer grass encourages deeper root growth. Deeper roots stabilize soil and soak up and absorb runoff water.

Reduce the size of your lawn. Identify areas of your lawn that you don’t use often. Instead of mowing these patches, let nature take its course. Native plants will pop up to help soak up and clean runoff water and provide vital wildlife habitat.

Leave your pine needles and fallen leaves. They protect the soil, aid in water retention, and nourish your lawn with nutrients as they decompose. Contrary to popular belief, while pine needles themselves are acidic, they do not make soil more acidic. And, say goodbye to leaf blowers—they do more harm than good by stirring up dirt that can transport nutrients to nearby lakes.

Test your soil before applying any additives. Excess fertilizer can get washed into lakes, and the nutrients in fertilizer fuel unwanted aquatic plant and potentially toxic cyanobacteria growth. Aim to minimize or eliminate their use.

Regulations and Additional Guidance

If you own shoreline property, remember that specific regulations apply. For example, you cannot use chemicals—even “organic” ones—within 25 feet of a public water source. Consult this document for more guidance on lake-friendly lawn care within the protected shoreland. And, if you don’t live along the shoreline, still be mindful of your chemical application. We all live in a watershed (an area of land where all water drains to a common point, such as a lake or stream), and whatever you apply on your property could still end up in a lake.

For expert guidance tailored to shoreline properties, look no further than Landscaping at the Water’s Edge. This comprehensive resource from the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension is a must-have for shoreline property owners. Chapter 6 offers lake-friendly lawn care information, from plant selection to pest management strategies. By implementing these practices, you can play a vital role in restoring and preserving the health of our lakes.

If you’re unsure how to transform your lawn into a more lake-friendly place, the LakeSmart Program can help! Learn more and start your lake-friendly living journey at nhlakes.org/lakesmart.

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