Helpful Information for Residents

Watch Out for Tree Volcanoes

It’s spring, and homeowners and landscapers are preparing their gardens, pruning their trees and shrubs, and mulching. The NJ Shade Tree Federation recommends that the best mulches for trees are shredded pine or hardwood bark at least 3/8” in size, pine needles, one-year old wood chips, or shredded and composted leaves. But the Federation warns against building volcanoes on tree trunks. Instead, start six inches from the tree trunk and mulch outward to the edge of the dripline. Keep the mulch about 3 inches deep. You may use woven landscape fabric or newspaper under the mulch in heavy weed areas. But don’t use plastic under the mulch.
Tree Volcano

Lawn Fertilization Tips

When you’re fertilizing the lawn, remember you’re not just fertilizing the lawn

Now that the warmer weather is here, many of us are thinking about fertilizing our lawns, to restore them to that perfect early-summer green.  But run-off from lawns and gardens can carry nutrients – especially phosphorus and nitrogen – into our streams and rivers, where they can cause blue-green algae to proliferate.  These algal “blooms” can spoil the water quality, disrupt the environment for other wild creatures, and produce odor and toxins that may be unpleasant or even harmful to people and pets.

You can minimize the impact of your lawn treatments on the natural environment by:

  • Not applying fertilizer when a runoff-producing rainfall is expected or when the soil is already saturated;
  • Ensuring you don’t spread or spill fertilizers on impervious surfaces;
  • Avoiding the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizers altogether;
  • Mulching tree leaves and grass clippings as alternatives to synthetic fertilizers – mulching grass clippings instead of bagging them reduces the need for fertilizer by as much as one-half;
  • For properties adjacent to streams and other bodies of water, maintaining a buffer of natural vegetation along the water’s edge to filter runoff.

For more information, see: https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1216 and https://njaes.rutgers.edu/FS633