Spring Fertilizer Tips

This spring, keep your family, pets, neighbors and wildlife safe from harsh fertilizer chemicals.

Here are a few lawn fertilizer safety tips:

Read the instructions on the label every time you fertilize in order to understand your task and handle it properly.

Always use gloves when handling fertilizer. The nitrogen in the fertilizer can cause a chemical burn. If you get fertilizer on you, wash immediately under running water. If any redness or burning occurs, call your doctor.

Keep fertilizers far out of the reach of children and pets, in a cool, dry place. If you store fertilizer in a garage or shed, keep it on a high shelf, or in a locked container for chemical storage.

Apply only what you need. Lawn fertilizers can pollute local streams and Puget Sound. Take steps to keep others safe by telling your neighbors about the application, and be sure to keep children and pets off the grass until you have thoroughly watered the fertilizer–or until a rainstorm has taken care of that job for you. Fertilize at the right time of the year: late spring or early fall on lawns. Landscape beds and trees do better with compost mulch instead of fertilizer. Compost releases nutrients slowly and there’s no danger of “burning” your plants, and no polluted runoff.

Avoid “quick release” water soluble fertilizers – they look cheap but most is wasted through runoff. Instead, look for fertilizers labeled “slow-release” or “natural organic.” They are slowly released by soil bacteria to feed your lawns and landscapes much longer, and there’s much less runoff and pollution.

Dispose of unwanted fertilizers properly – There is no fee for hazardous waste disposal for Seattle residents. Visit SPU’s web site or call 1-888-TOXIC ED (869-4233) to find a household hazardous waste site near you. Click here for a location map and list of what’s accepted.