During the warmer season, people in Billings are improving their lawns and tending to their gardens.
One of the main concerns for some is overuse of fertilizers and herbicides.
Yellowstone County Urban Horticulture Assistant Amy Grandpre said Tuesday an effect of overusing these chemicals is seen after a heavy rain. Water run-off can leak into septic systems and sewers and eventually back into the ground.
According to agriculture experts, excess nitrates can cause serious health problems when they leach into our water systems. They can also cause algae blooms when leached into waterways and damage the environmental in other ways.
Grandpre says that a good way to prevent harmful runoff is to use granular fertilizers on your lawn.
“There are time-release fertilizers, which are very nice. That way you don't get that big flush of fertilizer and then, you know, three weeks later you are kind of looking wimpy again. So, that is a good way to kind of extend that use a little bit," says Grandpre.
Grandpre says most of the time, fertilizers are applied too much throughout the year. She says people should do the holiday fertilizer system, which means fertilizing Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day.
Grandpre also recommends that people get a soil test. She says the test are usually inexpensive but will allow people to know the exact amount of fertilizer that is needed on their lawn type.
Grandpre says everyone should make sure their lawn receives adequate amounts of water during times when there is little rainfall in Billings.
“I recommend that folks get out there with a straight-sided coffee can… and measure what your sprinkler system is putting out. Try to get out there with your lawn, about one inch at a time, about once a week,” says Grandpre.
This method will ensure that the moisture will not dry up during the next hot but will instead soak into the soil, she said.
Grandpre says while people are working on their yards, they should be respectful of bees.
“Really be respectful of pollinating plants right now. I know there is a lot of folks out there that really hate the crab apples so they will go out there and spray the tree. Well, when they spray the tree with insecticides during full bloom, you just wiped out the neighborhood’s bees," says Grandpre.
Grandpre recommends waiting until after the pollination period when the bees are no longer active to spray trees.