Seattle Public Utilities

Yard Care

Clean water tip

How can you grow a healthy lawn and garden and help keep our waters clean?

  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly. Many plants do not need as much fertilizer or need it as often as you might think. There are many healthier alternatives to chemical pesticides.
  • Don't fertilize or spray chemicals before a rain storm.
  • Consider using organic fertilizers; they release nutrients more slowly.
  • Call the Garden Hotline (below) to identify your pest problems, and find safer alternatives for control.
  • Use commercially available compost or make your own using garden waste. Mixing compost with your soil means your plants will need less chemical fertilizer and puts your waste to good use. Commercial compost and soil amendments may be available from your solid waste or wastewater utility as well as your local garden store.
  • For more information on fertilizing and pesticide alternatives and composting, call the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or help@gardenhotline.org, and learn more at Natural Yard Care.

What's the problem with fertilizers and pesticides?

If it's used carefully. If you use too much fertilizer or apply it at the wrong time, or spread pesticides like weed-and-feed, they can easily wash off your lawn or garden into storm drains and then flow untreated into lakes or streams.

Just as it does in your garden, fertilizer in lakes and streams makes plants grow. In water bodies, extra fertilizer can mean extra algae and aquatic plant growth.

Too much algae harms water quality and makes boating, fishing and swimming unpleasant. As algae decay, they use up oxygen in the water that fish and other wildlife need.

Pesticides on your yard also wash off into streams, harming aquatic life, fish, birds, and possibly our children and pets. So think twice, and contact the Garden Hotline for safer alternatives.

Related links

Composting
Natural Lawn and Garden Care