With longer days and warm weather headed for Massachusetts, if you are anything like a majority of homeowners, you are eager to get outdoors, ready to plan your flower and vegetable gardens and restore your lawn after very gray, drab weather. You might even use herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers in order to keep your garden free of weeds and bugs while keeping your lawns thriving and green. However, those chemicals that you put on the lawn may soak into the soil and might contaminate the groundwater as well.
If you are relying on using well water at your house, you might be concerned and want to know whether it is safe to put lawn products and fertilizers on your yard. There are, fortunately, a number of different things that you can do to keep your gardens and yard healthy and thriving while your water is kept safe and clean.
How Groundwater Is Affected By Insecticides And Fertilizers
Herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers affect groundwater mainly in two ways: they soak into the ground and then penetrate the water table, which is referred to lead, and also through runoff, where they are carried into streams or into well water directly by precipitation or excess water.
As chemicals and fertilizer are put on grass and plants, they make their way into the soil. So whether they reach into the groundwater or not will depend on the following factors:
Groundwater depth: In the state of Massachusetts, the depth of well water will vary from 20 feet up to several hundreds of feet in depth.
Soil conditions, like its makeup and texture. For example, coarse, loose soil enables water to travel more quickly and is not filtered as much before it reaches the water table.
How persistent the chemical is: how long it will take to break down and degrade. Chemicals that slowly break down are much more likely to reach into the groundwater.
Solubility: how easy does the chemical break down or dissolve in water.
It is more likely that high soluble chemicals will reach groundwater.
Runoff is more of a serious concern when you are dealing with lawn chemicals and fertilizers. If your yard has any type of slope, watering the lawn or rain may carry highly concentrated chemicals into streams that are nearby. In certain cases, they may run into your well directly, which can create situations that are quite dangerous.
Safely Using Fertilizers And Lawn Care Products When You Have A Well
Although it is natural to have concerns about using fertilizers and weed killers when your own a well, you can do it safely and keep safe well water on your property.
Prevent Back Siphoning
Whenever you are spraying chemicals with a garden hose, if the pressure drops, a siphoning action occurs, which pulls water into the hose again, and that can pull chemicals into the water directly as well unless you place an anti-siphoning device on your hose. The same thing is true when a hose is used to fill a container or tank with chemicals contained in it. Be sure the nozzle on the hose is over the fill line so that backflow is prevented.
Carefully Follow The Label
Each fertilizer and pesticide should come with directions on how to properly use it, including how it should be handled, dilution ratios, and how to properly dispose of the excess. The EPA advises and approves those instructions with the prevention of contamination and safety in mind. Don’t use more than the amount that is recommended, since that can result in a higher chance of contamination, or it might damage your garden or lawn.
Keep a Safe Distance Away
Spray, mix, and store herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers as far away as possible from your well, and take care to avoid spraying or mixing uphill from any water source or well. The same thing is true for all wells, including unused ones, that might be located on your property.
Safe Storage And Disposal
Once you are finished using your lawn products, make sure to keep them covered and store them above the ground in order to prevent them from being able to leach into your soil and keep them away from pets and children. If you have any product leftover, don’t pour them into a stream or ditch or onto the ground. You could always share it with a friend or neighbor or take them to dispose of at a hazardous waste collection center.
Alternatives To Traditional Pesticides And Fertilizers
If you want to feel confident that your water is being kept free of chemicals, then there are safe, environmentally options that you can consider that will keep a healthy garden and green lawn:
Keep your grass taller, around two or three inches, in order to prevent the growth of weeds.
Spray vinegar in order to kill grass and weeds from unwanted locations.
Use natural and organic solutions in place of herbicides and pesticides.
use a nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium or a 3-2-1 ratio.
Test The Well Water
If you aren’t sure whether your well water is safe or not, or you use chemicals on a regular basis, then the well water should be tested once every two years for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrates, and heavy metals. It is recommended that pesticides be tested for once every fives years. However, if you use pesticides on a regular basis, you might want to test more often.
Call Your Well Water Specialist In Massachusetts
Here at Wells Inclusive, we completely understand how important it is to have clean, safe water for your family. To learn more about water testing and well inspection, please get in touch with us today!