Each spring, as the sun returns and flowers begin to bloom people excitedly return to gardening, weeding, and fertilizing. As much as this results in beautiful lawns and gardens, it can have some devastating effects on aquatic life in the watershed.
Generally fertilizers are applied to lawns in the early spring and generally within a short time frame. Inevitably after a few days of sunshine the spring rains return and excess fertilizer is washed off the lawns and directly into salmon bearing streams (Hyde Creek in this case). This onslaught of chemicals on the young salmon in the creeks and streams can be very harmful and result in large fish mortalities. The Hyde Creek Watershed Society regularly observes a high mortality rate in the resident young Coho after rainfalls because, we believe, of this concentration of fertilizer being washed into the creek (in addition to other harmful substances such as road pollution, hot tubs drained into the storm drains, etc.) Sadly, this spring we lost approximately 500 young Coho smolts.
Chemical lawn fertilizers provide Phosphate, Nitrates, and Potassium. However, it has been found that grasses and plants need up to 10 additional nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, etc. Fertilizers compete with these nutrients for binding sites on plants' roots and prevent these nutrients from being absorbed. This weakens the plants overall thus creating an artificial dependency on chemical fertilizers.
Luckily, there are alternatives to artificial fertilizers that are far more beneficial to your lawn as well as to the environment in general. There exists a natural fungi in the soil that enjoys a symbiotic relationship with plants called Mycchorizal Fungi. This fungi live in the soil and create a relationship between plant roots and the soil that allow plants to take up more nutrients than they would be able to access otherwise. This amazing fungus-plant alliance stimulates plant growth and accelerates root development thereby making the grass more tolerant to environmental stresses. By eliminating chemical fertilizers and reintroducing natural fungi into your garden, you will break this chemical dependency. And the bonus is they are completely harmless to fish!
Mycchorizal fungi is available at your local plant store under different commercial names, so please don't hesitate to ask for it - and if they don't have it in, they will get it in, particularly as more and more people ask for it. Inoculating your soil with natural Mycchorizal fungi each spring will result in a far healthier lawn and garden as well as having no negative effects on your local waterways. Please consider making the change to this product. I have, and the results are remarkable. I'm not exaggerating!
Happy (fish friendly) Gardening!