Photo: NAM Planning and Design

How Does Landscaping Affect Stormwater?

  • Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (weed-killers) used on lawns wash into the stormwater and eventually end up in the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.

  • Fertilizers can cause algal blooms, which rob our waterways of oxygen that fish need to survive.

  • Pesticides and herbicides kill aquatic life in the streams and rivers and pollute our sources of drinking water.

  • Open spaces that are not landscaped can quickly erode, leading to sedimentation in storm sewers and local waterways.

Green Landscaping Tips

  • Contract with a non-chemical landscaping company that will provide all-natural landscaping and pest management.

  • Sustainable landscaping does not need to be costly; For instance, lawns will grow better and need less fertilizer if they are mown less frequently.

  • Use commercial organic fertilizers, which are safer and release nutrients more slowly. These can be found at nearly any garden supply store.

  • Use chemical fertilizers sparingly. Conduct a soil test to determine your actual fertilizer needs.

  • Never fertilize before a rain storm—the pollutants are picked up by stormwater and washed into our waterways.

  • Keep fertilizer off of paved surfaces: sidewalks, driveways, etc.

  • Maintain a buffer strip of unmowed natural vegetation bordering waterways and ponds to trap excess fertilizers and sediment from landscaped areas.

  • Avoid pesticides. Instead, utilize natural and organic pesticides and Integrated Pest Management strategies, which eliminate pests by developing a healthy, diverse ecosystem in your yard.

  • Weeds can be controlled by mowing, pulling by hand, or encouraging the growth of hearty native species to out-compete the weeds. See the Invasive Species Removal Fact Sheet for more information.

  • If your business is located along a waterway, develop a landscaped Backyard Buffer to reduce stormwater runoff pollution.

  • If you own vacant parcels that are not landscaped, you can cover them with cheap, low-maintenance cover crop such as alfalfa (Medicago sativa) or white sweet clover (Melilotus alba).

Incorporate one or more of these stormwater management techniques into your landscape: 

Artificial Wetlands
Rain Gardens
Tree Plantings
Wildlflower Meadow

For More Information:
Choosing a Sustainable Landscaping Company
Non-toxic Weed Control
Organic Lawn Care
Invasive Species Removal Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Soil Fertility Testing Program
Vacant Lot Cover Crops


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