Fertilize Moderately and Responsibly

Start plants right – with compost

Overuse of chemical fertilizers can pollute our waterways and damage soil and plant health. The best start for all plants is to amend the soil with compost before planting.

Trees, shrubs, and most perennials get all the nutrients they need from healthy soil, and regular mulching with organic matter like compost, leaves, or wood chips. If plants aren’t doing well, call the Garden Hotline to diagnose the need – it may be a soil problem, disease, or a particular nutrient need.

Need a fertilizer? Go natural!

Lawns, flowers, and gardens sometimes need extra nutrients. Look for the words “Natural organic” or “Slow-release” on the fertilizer bag. These products are released slowly by soil organisms, feed plants longer, and are less likely to wash off into streams.

Reality check – get a soil test

Using too much or the wrong fertilizer can damage plants and our streams. Call the Garden Hotline to diagnose plant problems, pick the right fertilizer, and to find out how to get an inexpensive soil test that will tell you what’s really in your soil, and what your lawn or garden needs.

More Information

Growing Healthy Soil guide (pdf)

Questions? Call the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or email help@gardenhotline.org