Spring has arrived and with the warm, wet weather you may be excited to watch your gardens and lawns flourish. You may also be tempted to add fertiliser but before you do, please consider the unintended consequence this has on our precious lakes and lagoons.
The affects of fertilisers
Fertiliser uses nitrogen and phosphorus to help plants grow on land, but also feeds algae as it runs through the ground into our waterways. This can lead to harmful algal blooms which reduce water quality, use up oxygen and suffocate marine life, shade underwater plants and can be toxic to people.
Ideally, don’t apply at all! Studies show the main reason people fertilise their lawns is not because the grass needs it, but because they think they have to. We also encourage you to plant native plants, which have adapted to our climate and don’t require pesticides or fertilisers. If you must apply fertiliser, please use slow-release, organic options and don’t apply if there is rain forecast.
Watch this video to understand how fertilisers can impact our waterways.
Discover our waterways, how we are working to maintain and protect them and how you can explore them at loveourwaterways.centralcoast.nsw.gov.au
Looking for some non-chemical options for weed control?
We are often asked about non-chemical options for weed control... this is a tricky one to answer because there are so many variables involved.
- What type of weeds?
- How big is the area needing treatment?
- Where are the weeds growing?
- Are you planning on using the area again to grow things?
Here are some of the more common ‘non-toxic’ control methods. Just remember that even salt and vinegar are chemicals that can be toxic too.
Pros: Just water. Effective on soft-leafed weeds, in cracks and small weed patches.
Cons: Dangerous to the operator if spilt on them, leaves the ground hot for a considerable time, only efficient if near a source of boiling water, not overly energy efficient, can kill earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms.
Salt and/or vinegar
Pros: Are “natural” products, effective on soft-leafed weeds, works quickly.
Cons: Depending on usage patterns, can lead to soil acidification and build up of salt, not good on many pavers as the salt solution penetrates, dries, crystallises then can cause pavers to flake off, is non-systemic meaning weeds with an established root system will quickly regrow.
Sprays based on chemicals such as pine oil and pelargonic acid
Pros: Effective on soft-leafed weeds, are biodegradable and renewable.
Cons: Expensive, are non-systemic meaning weeds with an established root system will quickly regrow, requiring frequent application.
Pros: Can be used to smother small weeds without need to treat first, prevents germination of the majority of weed seeds, saves water in the soil, adds to the organic matter content of the soil, improving soil structure, nutrients and water holding abilities, encourages earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms.
Cons: Can be bulky to handle, has to be used thickly, can be a potential source of new weeds if quality material is not supplied, not always applicable.
Pros: Can be a pet too, eats a wide variety of weed species, good for tough long-term weeds, produces fertiliser.
Cons: Not suitable for urban areas, can be destructive if not well contained, can be a little odiferous.
Pros: eats weeds seeds and soft-leafed plants, tills the soil, produces fertiliser and eggs.
Cons: Can quickly destroy a garden if not confined to weedy areas.
What to do if you spot a possible weed
If you spot a strange plant send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and our experts can help identify it and help with management strategies if it is a weed.