Bulletin E3135
Riparian Tip Sheet: What Can You Do To Be "Phosphorus Smart"?

November 11, 2015 - Allen Krizek

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 What can you do to be “phosphorus smart”?

Phosphorus (P) is a nutrient that stimulates plant growth. When it rains, storm water can carry phosphorus-containing materials into lakes and streams, which can result in excessive algal growth, decreased water quality and harm to aquatic life.

Don’t guess, soil test

  • Your Michigan State University Extension office can help with your soil test.

Fertilize smartly

  • Most lawns don’t require P fertilizer. Use zero P unless a soil test shows need.
  • Sweep fertilizers off sidewalks and driveways.
  • Maintain a “no application” zone near the water’s edge.

Prevent soil erosion

  • Maintain a dense lawn or other vegetation to reduce water runoff.
  • Establish a native plant buffer along the shoreline.

Keep leaves away from the lake

  • Don’t burn or compost near the shoreline.

Pump out your septic tank every three to five years


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