Consider lawn care without pesticides or fertilizers and use native grasses and plants. See the Cornell resource below titled “lawn care without pesticides.”

Leaves and Grass Clippings

Leave grass clippings on the lawn. They return nutrients to the soil, thereby reducing the need to fertilize.  If you have a lake, pond, or stream on your property; establish a buffer zone between your lawn and the water to prevent the grass clippings from getting into the water.  Allow the vegetation in the buffer zone to grow tall so that it filters out pollutants.

Do not put leaves or grass clippings in locations where they will wash into the road, ditch or local waterbodies. Grass clippings are high in phosphorus, which is a major pollutant in our waterbodies.

Never put leaves or grass clippings in streams or other waterbodies!

Fertilizers and/or Pesticides

If using fertilizers and/or pesticides, some practices to follow are:

Remember that using a fertilizer that a plant does not need, or applying fertilizers or pesticides beyond the recommended dose, is harmful and a waste of money! Excess chemicals will probably be washed away by stormwater.

*Refer to Cornell University’s Gardening Resources Page for more information on fertilizing lawns.


Proper mowing gives grass an advantage over weeds and helps keep your lawn healthy. Proper mowing will help encourage good (thick, dense) turf growth and reduce the need for pesticide applications.

Take a look at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s recommendations at:

Cornell suggests setting your lawnmower to trim grass to a 3-inch height or higher. This encourages a larger root system that can reach more water and nutrients in the soil. The smaller the root system, the more vulnerable the lawn is to drought, insects, and weeds. Shorter lawns also require more frequent fertilization.

Additional Resources

Cornell has a publication titled “Lawn Care without Pesticides” it can be found at:

Cornell’s lawn care home page can be found at: