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A blog by your local public health experts

 

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Bring Out Your Yard’s Natural Beauty with Natural Yard Care

Health Promotion Coordinator Walt Burdsall
by Walt Burdsall04/03/2018 3:27 p.m.
Updated: 01/04/2019

Pierce County is home to lakes, streams, and beautiful Puget Sound beaches. As we get ready to enjoy our yards this spring and summer, you can take steps in your own backyard to protect the water we all love.

We have several options to keep our yards lush, green, and free of weeds without the use of harsh chemicals.  Because fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides can do unintended harm to our groundwater, lakes, streams, and Puget Sound. With five easy steps, you can care for your yard naturally—and save money in the process!

Five steps for natural yard care

  1. Build healthy soil–Healthy soil should contain a good balance of air, water, and organic material. Avoid over-compacting your soil to ensure enough air and water are present near the roots. Consider mixing in some compost so your plants get plenty of food.
  2. Put the right plant in the right place–Different plants need different amounts of sunlight, warmth and water. Most vegetables need four to six hours of full sun per day, while ferns and rhododendrons love the shade. Get acquainted with your yard: Where is it sunny, shady, soggy, or dry? Work with your local nursery to choose plants well-suited to your yard to save time, money and hassle.
  3. Practice smart watering—Too much or too little water can cause a lot of plant problems. Excess water can go to waste. It can run off your yard and pick up chemicals as it drains into local lakes and rivers. Consider installing a drip watering system. These deliver water directly to the plant, slowly and right at the roots. Kits start around $40, are easy to install, and you can buy them at local garden shops—some even come with automatic timers!
  4. Think twice before using chemicals–Pesticides and herbicides may eliminate unwanted bugs and weeds, but they can easily end up where you don’t want them. Rain and overwatering can wash them into waterways, and kids and pets can track chemicals into the house. Instead, consider pulling weeds in the early spring before they grow. Cover planting areas with three to four inches of mulch to keep weeds from taking root. For denser weed patches, put cardboard or newspaper under the mulch to smother weeds and block new ones from springing up. You can also use vinegar to kill weeds in cracks and hard-to-weed areas.
  5. Mow smart and fertilize organically—Grassy areas are the most challenging parts of yards. They require frequent watering in the summer, and any shaded area will attract moss. Instead of weed and feed products, use an organic, slow release fertilizer to keep your grass healthy. Mow often, and keep your blade sharp. Leave the clippings on the yard as free fertilizer and only water about one inch per week. Consider reducing the size of your lawn to a more manageable area, especially where you have moss problems.

Get more advice from the experts. Attend our free Natural Yard Workshops from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in:

  • Gig Harbor, the City Hall and Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St.—April 19 and 26 and May 3.
  • University Place, at City Hall, 3715 Bridgeport Way W.—April 24 and May 1 and 8. 

Learn from gardening professionals about:

  • High to Low: Get Rid of High Maintenance Garden Practices—Landscape designer, horticulturist and author Sue Goetz explains how to work smarter, not harder to have a great garden.
  • Great Looking Yard and Less Water Too—Horticulture instructor and environmental health and forest science expert Natalie Jones talks plant placement and how to save time and money when watering.
  • Growing a Green Thumb—Author and lecturer Dr. David Deardorph, co-author of “What’s Wrong with My Plant?” gives ideas to add variety to your garden, including flowers, herbs, and vegetables. 

Yard care can be easy, save you money, and—if done the natural way—help keep our Puget Sound Region beautiful and healthy. Learn more about natural yard care and find printable flyers to the upcoming workshops in Gig Harbor and University Place.

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  1. Updated: 01/04/2019
  2. Updated: 01/03/2019
Health Promotion Coordinator Walt Burdsall

by Walt Burdsall

Walt helps people use our natural environment safely and wisely.