Natural Resources Outreach
Public Works Department
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Chemicals used on lawns and gardens can pollute local streams, even if you don’t have a creek on your property. Pesticides and fertilizers used on your property can be carried through storm drains and into waterways when it rains. These chemicals can harm plants and animals living in or near streams.
You have many effective and low-cost alternatives to pesticides and harsh chemical fertilizers that are healthier for your household and the environment.
Grow a Healthy Lawn
If your lawn and garden are showing signs of increased dependence on chemicals and decreased nutrient availability, your soil may be unbalanced. Try using a soil conditioner on your lawn or garden to reduce your need for harsh chemical products. A soil conditioner will enhance the aeration, reduce the compaction, increase the moisture retention, and assist in the breakdown of organic matter in your soil.
You may also want to consider an eco-lawn. An eco-lawn is a low input alternative to a conventional lawn. Eco-lawns are more like a turf type of lawn and are made up of a mix of broad-leaf and grass species. Here are just a few benefits of eco-lawns:
- Require little to no fertilizer.
- Need less water than conventional lawns.
- Stay green through the summer months.
- Require less mowing.
- Physical methods include spraying aphids with a garden hose, using sticky tape to keep root weevils from climbing rhododendrons, and picking up and discarding snails and slugs.
- Non-toxic sprays, oils, and soaps help deter pests from plants without hazardous chemicals.
- Cleaned egg and oyster shells can be used around plants to keep slugs and snails away.
- Removal of standing water reduces habitat for mosquitos to lay eggs.
- Lacewings, ladybugs, and even certain bacteria can be introduced to control pests. Ask about biological controls for your garden at your local plant nursery or garden shop, or consult a master gardener.
- Pulling weeds often and when they are young is the environmentally preferable method of weed control. Weeding tools and hoes make the job easier. This is an effective method of controlling weeds and good exercise.
- Boiling water poured on young weeds is an effective alternative to chemicals for many weeds.
- Mulches and corn gluten are great for keeping weeds from sprouting in the first place.
Alternatives to Synthetic Fertilizers
- Mulch helps protect plants from disease and prevents water and nutrient loss, requiring less fertilizer.
- Manure from barnyards provides soil nutrients. Manure should be composted before use.
- Compost can be purchased or made at home from plant-based kitchen and yard waste.
- Short grass trimmings left after mowing on the lawn provide an easy and free method of mulching.
- Slow-release natural fertilizers have less chance of polluting local lakes and streams.
- Aeration of your lawn allows air and water to reach plant roots. Best results can be achieved by using equipment designed for this purpose.
If you use fertilizers or pesticides, do so sparingly and always follow the label instructions. Avoid using pesticides and fertilizers near streams where they can wash into waterways, causing algae blooms and poisoning aquatic life.