Fertilizer runoff occurs when the ground gets more water than it can absorb and it washes away. When runoff carrying pollutants, like excess fertilizer, moves over paved surfaces (streets, parking lots, etc.) there is no soil to act as a filter and it may flow directly into our waterways. Even houses that are not beside a stream or lake can contribute to the problem. Storm drains found in most local neighborhoods are designed to move runoff from your neighborhood to the nearest body of water. Though many people believe otherwise, storm drains do not carry stormwater to wastewater treatment plants but instead, flow UNTREATED directly into our rivers and streams.
The two nutrients that can cause the most problems to our water quality are nitrogen and phosphorus. They are needed by all plants for healthy growth. Although an individual lawn or garden seems small, the total area of lawns is significant. Proper fertilizer use and lawn care regimens enhance plant growth without polluting the environment. Yet, misuse of fertilizer may harm the environment and injure your lawn and landscape plants.