Make a Difference in the Yard

Plants provide many benefits. Not only do they beautify the places where we work and play, but they help to reduce erosion and can even help remove some forms of pollution from soil and groundwater. 

However, did you know that plant matter itself can be a form of pollution? 

Landscaping activities can greatly impact our local streams, rivers, and the ocean. Excessive organic material in streams and in the ocean leads to increased nitrogen in the water which can tip the balance in favor of algae growth. Algae blooms can cause the death of aquatic life including coral reefs along shorelines because they rob the water of oxygen. 

Along with organic waste, chemical pollutants resulting from landscape maintenance activities can be carried away by stormwater runoff and transported to the nearest storm drain and out to the ocean.

Use Green, Non-Chemical Solutions

Instead of using chemical products for landscaping activities, try amending soils with compost, weeding by hand, and replacing plants with native cultivars and climate-appropriate plants. These practices can help prevent excess fertilizers from reaching the storm drain system and entering bodies of water.

Use Pesticides, Fertilizers Only As Needed

  • Using herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers sparingly can save you money and help lower the chances of rain washing these chemical products into the storm drain.
  • If feasible, targeted spot treatment is preferable to broadcasting or using a spray truck. Avoid over-spraying and off-target applications.
  • Mix and use only what you need.
  • Select a pesticide specifically for the pest to be controlled.
  • Whenever possible, implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM programs use a range of tools, including biological and agricultural controls, to manage pests, promote healthy plants, and reduce risks to human health and the environment.
  • Use all lawn and garden products according to the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Avoid applying insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers before an expected rain event, or during high winds.

Store, Clean Up & Dispose of Chemicals Properly

  • Properly handle and store chemical products in accordance with their Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and ensure storage areas are designed to contain spills.
  • Never dump chemicals down storm drains, sinks, sewers, gutters, or onto soil.
  • Have spill cleanup materials readily available and use dry methods to clean up spills. Keep a spill kit nearby containing personal protective equipment  and absorbent materials (sand, kitty litter or sawdust). Cover spills with absorbent  materials and put contaminated material into a sealed plastic bag or bucket with a lid. If applicable, dispose of it as hazardous waste.

Common Landscaping Pollutants

  • Green Waste (tree leaves, branches, grass clippings)
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Grease
  • Oil
  • Sediments
  • Trash
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Herbicides