Do you ever wonder what cumulative affect on the environment is created by all those fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides we put on our lawn every year? Water quality is the most directly affected by these lawn products. This occurs due to surface water run-off from our lawns. During a heavy rain, any excess products on our lawn are washed into a nearby storm drain, or washed directly into a stream. Either way, the products are not treated prior to reaching the stream. Once in the stream, these products continue to do their work, killing bugs (pesticides) or making plants grow (fertilizers). This means they are altering the ecosystem of the stream, removing food sources and reducing oxygen levels, thereby killing aquatic life.
But chemicals from our lawns aren’t the only problem in streams. In fact, the biggest source of water pollution is sediment. Sediment includes clay, silt, and other components of soil. It is delivered to the stream the same way as the chemicals described above, by surface water run-off. When excessive sediment is delivered to a stream, it clouds the water, suffocating aquatic life.
Yet another source of water pollution from household runoff is yard trimmings. Yard trimmings decomposing in a stream can use up the oxygen that aquatic animals need to survive. Again, this situation can kill aquatic life.
Now for the good news! All of this water pollution resulting from taking care of your yard can be easily prevented. That’s right, pollution prevention applies to our homes as well. Think about what all of the above situations had in common: excess matter or chemicals in our yards being carried off when it rains. Therefore, the easiest way to stop this pollution is to make it as difficult as possible for rain to carry anything off of our yards. This is done by a combination of easy steps, ranging from growing native vegetation on hillsides and bare spots in the lawn, to carefully choosing plants that will not require much fertilizer and pesticides. These tips and many more are summarized in “You’re the Solution to Water Pollution” (PPT, 2.16MB). Click on the link to see what you can do to prevent water pollution from your landscaping and outdoor household practices.
Visit the links below for other landscaping and Integrated Pest Management information:
LGEAN- Local Government Environmental Assistance Network’s site contains an abundance of useful information including government IPM program success stories.
IPM Plant Pictures and Pest Pictures Online:
Cornell University’s website has “A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America” that has pictures of parasitoids (wasps), predators (lady beetles), pathogens (fungi), and weed feeders (anthropods).
Penn State/ Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture
Florida’s Common Sense Pest Control