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Caring for your lawn properly can both enhance its appearance and provide environmental benefits. Healthy grass is a feeding ground for birds, prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants and absorbs airborne pollutants. But remember, what you put on your lawn doesn't stay there. Treatments such as fertilizers, bug killers and weed killers can end up in our waterways and kill plants, fish and other animals.

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Herbicides, Pesticides and Fertilizers

  • Use organic mulch and environmentally friendly pest control when possible.
  • Avoid application before rain
  • Use only the required amount of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Follow manufacturer’s directions. Excess chemicals are washed into our waterways. 
  • Xeriscaping saves water and chemicals too!
Do not over water! Visit for tips on reducing water use.

How you can reduce fertilizer use

  • Choose plants that resist drought and enhance the growth of other plants.
  • Use a mulching mower and cut 1/3 the height of the grass. Clipped grass adds nutrients back into the soil. 
  • Cut your grass more often and only when dry.
  • Sharpen your lawn mowers blades regularly.
  • Compost yard waste and use it in flower beds and gardens.

How you can reduce pesticide use

  • Landscape for low maintenance and use native plants.
  • Attract birds or bats to your yard. They eat many insects including flies and mosquitos.
  • Use integrated pest management strategies to control pests. IPM utilizes biological principles, cultural practices and limited chemicals in pest control strategies. For more information visit

For more info, check out the Think Outside the Lawn: Pesticides, Herbicides and Fertilizers brochure (pdf)

Yard Waste and Fall Leaves

Did you know grass clippings and leaves blown into the street during yard maintenance end up in storm drains and waterways? This causes problems in the city’s stormwater drainage system and can lead to flooding. It's also a violation of City Code and can result in fines.  

Instead of blowing leaves yard waste into the street try:

Composting: Researchers found that mulching leaves in the fall resulted in a greener lawn and up to 80% less dandelions the following springs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers it a form of recycling that prevents filling our landfills, helps prevent pollution, enriches soils and reduces the production of methane gas.  

Mulching: Using a mower to shred leaves speeds up their decomposition. The shredded leaves make excellent mulch and can be used in flower or vegetable gardens as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. 

For more info, check out the Think Outside the Lawn: Managing Yard Waste & Landscape Debris brochure (pdf)

Other Ways to Think Outside the Lawn

  • Stop erosion by covering bare ground with grass, gravel or mulch
  • Direct runoff by installing swales or berms to slow waster down. Direct gutters and downspouts into green areas.
  • Consider water gardens. The benefits include pollution control, flooding protection, habitat creation and water conservation
  • Prevent blowing dust by covering gravel and dirt piles
  • Consider a rain barrel. They divert water from our drainage systems and the water can be used to grow healthy and lush plants.