Rainwater that does not soak into the ground washes across our lawns and gardens, picking up chemicals and debris along the way until it reaches a storm drain.  These storm drains empty untreated water into local creeks, rivers and lakes. Applying more chemicals to our yards than is absolutely necessary, such as fertilizers and pesticides, can be harmful to the plants and animals that depend on these water resources.  This can affect us by increasing the cost of cleaning the water for drinking and recreational use, and by reducing the use of these water resources for fishing, swimming and other activities.

Follow these easy tips to create a healthy yard AND protect our waterways:

  • Plant native plants!  Native plants have adapted to the conditions of the area and require fewer chemicals for growth and pest management.
  • Compost!  Help reduce debris that enters and decays in our waterways. As large amounts of organic matter (such as leaf litter) decays, it uses up much of the life-sustaining oxygen in the water, which can lead to poor water quality.
  • Harvest rainwater!  Rain barrels can be used to capture some of the water that falls on your rooftop – diverting it away from the storm sewer system and allowing it to be reused as water for your plants.
  • Use lawn and garden chemicals correctly or switch to alternatives!  Be smart with your use of fertilizers and pesticides.  Follow instructions on the packaging closely and avoid using chemicals when wet weather is in the forecast. Switching to organic lawn care methods not only creates a better environment for your family but will help you protect your watershed!
  • Don’t mow too short!  Keep your grass at 3 ½ inches or higher.  This helps to shade out weeds, thereby reducing the need for herbicides, and it increases the depth of grass roots, which will help water soak into your lawn better.

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Protecting Your Water; Compost Fall Yard Waste!

By now you have probably heard about the benefits of composting to reduce the amount of materials that enter our waste stream.  But did you know that composting can also help protect you water resources? It’s true! Learn a few reasons why below.

Composting fall yard waste:

  • Reduces the amount of debris that enters and decays in our waterways! Large amounts of decomposing organic matter (such as leaves and grass) reduce the oxygen content of a waterway which can lead to poor water quality and fish kills.
  • Reduces the amount of chemicals needed for your garden! Compost is great to add to your garden soil in the spring to provide nutrients and to help your plants grow, reducing the need to use chemicals which can pollute our water.
  • Helps absorb pollutants in stormwater runoff! Compost has shown to be able to help absorb and filter polluted stormwater, reducing the amount of pollutants that are washed into our local water resources.

If you are not able to compost, it is important to collect debris, leaf litter and grass clippings in the fall and NEVER dump them into our streams or storm drains. If you see illegal dumping of materials into streams call the non-emergency police or fire department to let your community know. Protecting our water resources begins with you!

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Or contact Kate Chapel at or 330-963-6243.

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