Plant fertilizer that is safe to use near lake

Asked July 24, 2020, 9:36 PM EDT

We recently built a home on Torch Lake which includes extensive landscaping but we purposely did not include turf in the design as we did not want the weekly maintenance including cutting and weed control. We love and appreciate horticulture. We also are very sensitive to the environment. We would like to apply fertilizer to the plants And in speaking with local landscape contractors we are uncomfortable with what they are recommending to be applied- all the products include phosphorus which I have been taught is not to be used anywhere near a lake. Can you recommend a product that is safe yet effective and if possible should/can it be sprayed or is granular long term release ok? We do have a comprehensive in-ground irrigation system installed that includes both pop up heads and drip. Thank you.

Antrim County Michigan

1 Response

Thank you for your questions and desire to protect valuable natural resources.

Before applying any fertilizer, especially around a lake, it’s always a good idea to have a soil test so you know what nutrients are actually needed. You can easily and safely obtain a soil test kit online at https://shop.msu.edu/product_p/bulletin-e3154.htm. Cost is $25 and includes the cost of the soil sample analysis and customized results based on your soil test results and the type of plants you are growing.

As for phosphorus, most our soils in Michigan already have enough phosphorus so additional phosphorus is not necessary and can negatively impact water quality. However, a soil test can better determine the needs of your specific soil along with the plants you are growing.

I hope this information is helpful and that the soil test results can provide further direction. Please let us know if you have further questions though. We’re happy to help.