Lawn and Garden Care
What do lawn and garden care have to do with stormwater? A lot! Lawn care, landscaping, and pest control practices are significant contributors to stormwater pollution. Rain and irrigation pick up dirt, litter, grass clippings, garden chemicals, and anything else in its path. This polluted water circulates in our storm drain system, which then flows directly into our local waterways without any treatment.
The excess nutrients and chemicals from yard waste can harm aquatic life and habitat, cause algae blooms, and affect human health. Chemical use such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers have the highest potential to cause adverse impacts on human health and the environment. Certain chemicals found in water at high enough concentrations are not only toxic to aquatic life, but can irritate human tissue, damage systems of the human body, and increase the risk of illness.
You Can Make a Difference
With good integrated lawn and garden management practices, our waterways and ecosystems can remain healthy and thriving.
- Mow High: Taller grass produces a thicker and denser root system, which slows the rate of runoff and absorbs more water.
- Retain or Compost: It's okay to leave grass clippings on your lawn! You can also compost your garden and grass clippings.Clippings decompose quickly, provide natural nutrients, and eliminate the need and cost for fertilizers.
- Sweep it Up: Make sure your lawn clippings don't end up on the street, sidewalk, or driveway where they can be washed down into storm drains. You can drop off your green waste at Wes Green Landscape Management for free, or you can arrange curbside pick-up for a small fee.
- Use Wisely: Use fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides only when necessary or not all. When doing so, follow label instructions carefully and apply chemicals sparingly. When possible, use non-toxic alternatives
- Check the Weather: Never apply any chemicals or fertilizers when rain is predicted. Rain can wash away these chemicals into storm drains, which lead straight into our streams, local water bodies, and the ocean.
- Consider Alternatives: Compost is a great organic alternative to chemical application. If you are considering using a pesticide or insecticide, identify the pest or insect first, and then research your options. You'll be surprised at the many non-toxic options you might find!
- Consider Installing a Rain Garden: Rain gardens are shallow depressions, often planted as flower beds, that temporarily collect and soak rainwater runoff. Rain gardens are a great way to catch runoff from roofs, driveways, patios, or lawns and help to filter and treat it before entering our waterways.
- Plant Native Species: Native grasses and plants are usually more drought and pest resistant. Maintaining native plants require less work, less water, and might eliminate the need for using chemicals.
- How-to videos to save water and remove your lawn from the California Water Board's Storm Water Program.
- Our Water, Our World, provides information on managing home and garden pests in a manner that does not harm the environment or our water resources.
- Composting is easy! Check out this brochure, Backyard Composting Made Easy (PDF), for tips.
- The City of Edmonton, capital of Canada's Alberta province, created a fun animation video about Rain Gardens! Check out the 3-minute videoHow-to guide: Rain Garden in a Box