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Best Landscape Practices (PDF Version)

Permeable LandscapingBest Landscape Practices to Reduce Stormwater Runoff, Decrease Non-point Pollution, and Conserve Water

  • Rain that falls in your yard should stay in your yard. Point downspouts towards a porous surface so water can soak into the soil. Earth shaping in combination with maintenance-free plant zones can make your yard more stormwater friendly.
  • Use porous material whenever possible. For example, use pea gravel instead of concrete for a drive way or sidewalk. Porous paving materials are usually less expensive than solid materials.
  • A properly designed and managed landscape can help slow down and filter stormwater runoff.
  • Use adapted plant material and appropriate rates and methods of fertilization, herbicides, and irrigation.
  • Never sweep or blow debris, including pesticides and herbicides into a storm drain. This will increase pollution is streams, lakes and natural estuaries.
  • Water-soluble fertilizers should be applied at no more than 0.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per application. A mixture of soluble and slow-release nitrogen sources is recommended. Use fertilizers low in nitrogen.
  • The proper application of fertilizer is more important than the type of product - liquid or water soluble.
  • Do not apply fertilizer when heavy rain is imminent; most if it will leach before plants have an opportunity to absorb it.
  • Soil pH should be considered when selecting fertilizer. Knowing your soil’s pH will help you make better decisions when selecting plant material, thus reducing the need for fertilizer.
  • Prior to using a pesticide or herbicide, try a cultural, mechanical or physical method.
  • When trying to control a pest or noxious weed, choose the product most appropriate for the problem.
  • A lawn fertilized in the proper manner will not only absorb non-point source pollutants but also will aid in soil stabilization, reduce ambient air temperatures, and promote a healthy ecosystem of its own as well.
  • Healthy plants can usually fend off pest attacks, while predatory insects and birds may suppress undesirable insects. If plants are healthy, preventive and indiscriminate use of pesticides is not advised. Safer alternatives to traditional pesticides include insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils to reduce populations of sucking insects.
  • Select plants with attributes that match the conditions of the planting site. This will reduce the need for supplemental watering and fertilizer.
  • Use organic mulch in planting beds and around trees. This will reduce water evaporation, the need for supplemental water, and improve soil fertility as they decompose, further reducing the need for frequent supplemental fertilization.
  • Irrigate only when grass and plants need water. Irrigation System
  • Limit the total amount of grass to 30% of your total landscape area. This will reduce water and fertilizer requirements.
  • Install a rain and moisture sensor on automatic irrigation systems.
  • Adjust irrigation systems so that overspray onto pavements does not happen. Turn off irrigation systems when water overflows to sidewalks and gutters.
  • Irrigation systems should be designed to water trees and shrubs separate from grass.
  • Use drought tolerant trees, shrubs and groundcover in the landscape.
  • Mow St. Augustine grass to a minimum height of 4”. This will encourage roots to grow deeper and thus require less water.
  • Dry surface soil doesn’t mean the root zone is dry. A soil coring tool can pull up soil sample from below the soil surface, allowing you to see and feel the moisture below.
  • Avoid watering between 10 am and 4 pm when evaporation losses are more likely. For best results water in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.