If used improperly, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can pollute our creeks, bays, and estuaries. As stormwater flows over lawns and gardens, or in areas where these products are stored or thrown away, it can pick up pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers which will then flow into our local creeks, bays, estuaries, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. These products are harmful to aquatic wildlife. The following tips can help keep your garden and lawn green and healthy while protecting our local waters!
Green Gardening Tips
- Plant selection
Selecting native plants can help reduce fertilizer use, and may be more resistant to local pests. In South Texas, native plants may also reduce the amount of watering!
- Don’t guess, soil test!
Before applying fertilizers conduct a soil test to determine what nutrients your soil needs, and how much are needed, to grow the plants you have selected. In Corpus Christi, you can contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office about soil testing options (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Don’t apply before the rain!
Contrary to popular belief, applying fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides before a rainfall does not help them soak in! Instead, these products are washed from your lawn or garden directly into our bays and estuaries, where they can hurt fish and wildlife. Look at the weather forecast and apply during periods of dry weather and use controlled watering according to package directions. Do not allow water to runoff of your property.
- First use physical and biological methods to try to manage pests
Physical methods should be one of the first lines of defense in managing pests. Physical methods can prevent pests, including insects, weeds, and wildlife, from accessing the plants, or if they are already there, can remove or kill the pest. This includes barriers, trapping, water spraying, pruning, and pulling. Biological methods include attracting beneficial insects or wildlife to your lawn or garden, or introducing these to your lawn or garden.
- Use chemical controls for pests as a last resort
If you determine that chemical control is needed, ask your provider which are the least toxic options for your particular problem
- Choose slow-release fertilizer, when appropriate
When fertilizer is slow release, the nutrients are available to the plant over a longer time period. Fewer nutrients will be washed away with the rain and into our bays and estuaries.
- Follow label directions
Always follow label directions to store, apply, and dispose of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers properly.
- More is not better!
When using fertilizer and pesticides, more is not better! When it rains, excess fertilizer and pesticide will runoff your lawn and garden into our bays and estuaries. Additionally, fertilizer contains salts. When too much fertilizer is applied it will draw moisture out of the plant, causing discoloration and root damage.
- Never pour down the drain!
Never pour pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers down any drain! If you pour them down the drain in your house, these types of chemicals can cause corrosion and negatively impact our wastewater drainage infrastructure. Never pour them down a storm drain – stormwater is not treated! Pouring these products into the storm drain is the same as dumping them directly in our bays and estuaries!
- Dispose of at the J.C. Elliot Collection Center
Household pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and their packaging, can be disposed of at the J.C. Elliot Collection Center.