Home & Garden

Fertilizers can be friendly to nature

Whether your lawn is newly sown or needs rejuvenation, consider helping it thrive naturally.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is sponsoring workshops to show people common sense, environmentally friendly ways to maintain lawns and gardens.

Natural lawn care proponents, for instance, advise using a slow-release fertilizer that’s not mixed with weed or pest killers. The slow-release varieties release nutrients at the rate plants can use them. Quick-release types tend to wash out of the soil quickly, creating ground and water pollution.

To make sure you’re buying a quick-release fertilizer, look on the product label for the total nitrogen content, according to Thurston County’s “Fertilizer: A Common Sense Guide.” The percent of water-insoluble nitrogen should be at least half of the total amount of nitrogen. For example, if the fertilizer contains 8 percent total nitrogen, at least 4 percent should be water-insoluble.

Chemical fertilizers aren’t necessarily bad. “There are chemically derived fertilizers that are slow release. Those are OK,” said Jane Mountjoy-Venning, with the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department. “Most natural fertilizers are slow-release, but not all.”

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is sponsoring natural yard and garden care workshops throughout Pierce County. At each site, the workshops are presented in a series of three sessions, each focusing on different yard and garden care topics.

The workshops will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at:

 • Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview Ave. Gig Harbor, on April 13, 21 and 27.

 • Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma on May 6, 13 and 20.

 • Meridian Habitat Park, 14422 Meridian E., on South Hill on April 15, 22 and 29.

 • Frontier Park, 21800 Meridian S., in Graham on May 4, 11 and 18.

The Gig Harbor and Tacoma sessions are free of charge.

The South Hill and Graham workshops are offered jointly through Pierce County Parks & Recreation and have an $8 fee.

Participants must pre-register for the workshops by contacting Geoff Rinehart at 253-798-4587 or at grinehart@tpchd.org.

 • To learn more about the workshops or for general tips on natural lawn and garden care, go to www.co.thurston.wa.us/health and click on “common sense gardening.”

 • Go to www.tpchd.org and search for “natural yard care.”

 • To view patches of lawn with various slow-release fertilizer programs, check out the west side of the clubhouse at Metro Park Tacoma’s Meadow Park Golf Course, 7108 Lakewood Drive W.

Debby Abe: 253-597-8694