Live Green in the Yard & Garden


The blossoms are out, the sun is shining and summer is on the horizon in the capital region. It’s an exciting and busy time to prepare your yard and garden. Natural gardening practices can help you save time and money, leaving more time to enjoy your outside oasis and make an environmentally friendly space for kids, pets, wildlife and waterways. No matter what size natural spaces you create near your home can increase biodiversity and support healthy ecosystems. A few helpful tips will ensure you can:

  • Use water wisely
  • Provide important habitat for local biodiversity like birds and pollinators
  • Stop the spread of harmful invasive species
  • Prevent pollution from entering our streams and waterways

What You Can Do

Gold is the New Green

For lawns, gold is the new green! Lawns naturally go dormant in the summer and will bounce back to green with the fall rains. If you do choose to water your lawn, remember green lawns only need an inch (2.5 cm) of water per week in the driest conditions. Use the cycle and soak method, watering in short cycles to allow water to soak in thus reducing water waste. Learn more >>

Water Wisely

Reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun by watering in the early morning from 4 - 10am or the evening from 7 - 10pm according to the CRD's Stage 1 Watering Schedule. Deep, infrequent watering encourages strong root systems and healthier plants. After a day of heavy rain, consider skipping watering until the following week or install a rain shut-off device onto your irrigation system that will automatically turn your system off when it is raining.

Make sure your sprinkler or irrigation system is watering the lawn and garden and not hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks. Fix leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Learn more >>

Create Healthy Soil

Healthy soil is the vital foundation for a healthy lawn and garden. Amend your soil with compost to help keep your soil loose, fertile, retain moisture and allows drainage. Mulch around your plants to save water by keeping moisture in the soil. This helps reduce evaporation, keep soil cool, reduce weeds and add nutrients to the soil. Use organic mulch like leaves, compost, grass clippings, straw, wood chips and coarse bark depending on the area. Learn more >>

Garden with Native Plantsnodding-onion

Adapted to our dry summers, native plants require little to no watering once established and no fertilizers or pesticides.  Native plants also create habitat and support local biodiversity. Learn more >>

Practice Green Lawn Care

Mow high and cut no more than the top third of the grass length. Longer grass encourages stronger, deeper roots, and can help shade the soil to reduce evaporation. Grasscycle grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn to act as mini-mulch to reduce evaporation and add nutrients. Learn more >>

Switch to Lawn Alternatives

Overseed lawn with drought tolerant low-growing ground cover like clover. Convert unused area of lawn to native plant beds or vegetable gardens. Areas of lawn that are difficult to access can make great native plant meadows.

Garden with Native Plantsnativeplant-videostill

Adapted to our region, native plants create habitat and support local biodiversity. Many pollinators like butterflies rely on specific native plants to provide food for all life stages. Since they do not need fertilizers or pesticides, they help keep our waterways clean and wildlife safe. Native plants also help save water once established. Learn more >>

Avoid Invasive Species

Look over your yard to see if any plants seem to be spreading rapidly. Find out if they are invasive species and if so, remove them and plant native alternatives. Learn more >>

Build Backyard Biodiversity

No matter the size, backyard natural spaces help connect habitat in urban environments and increase local biodiversity and support healthy ecosystems. Make your backyard a haven for local biodiversity by providing food, water and shelter for local species and use natural gardening techniques. Learn more >>

Go Chemical Free

Pesticides and fertilizers can pollute soil and groundwater, poison pets and wildlife, and can remain in the environment for long periods of time after application. To help limit pests naturally, use companion planting, native plants and encourage the presence of beneficial creatures like spiders, bees, ladybugs and frogs. Make sure unused fertilizers and pesticides are properly disposed of. Learn more >>

Sweep Cleanbroom

Clean sidewalks and driveways with a brush or broom, rather than power washing. Power washing can dislodge pollutants (like paint chips or oily sediments and cause chemical residues and soaps to flow into the storm drain system, harming aquatic life and habitat. Learn more >>

Go Pervious

Choose pervious pavement for driveways, parking areas and patios over impervious options. Standard asphalt and concrete are impermeable and do not let rainfall flow through to the soils below. This causes high runoff into our storm drain system, which head straight to our creeks, rivers and streams and can pollute these waterways. Learn more >>

Build a Rain Garden

Rain Gardens are sunken garden spaces where runoff from hard surfaces like roofs, roads and parking lots can pond and seep into the soil below. This helps reduce rainfall runoff which reduces flooding, erosion in downstream creeks and streams, and helps filter out pollution before it reaches the storm drain and enters our waterways. They also provide important habitat for local biodiversity. Learn more >>

Collect Rainwater

Collecting rainwater from your downspouts helps to protect our watersheds, streams, creeks and the nearshore environment by reducing the amount of water entering the stormwater system at once. When rainwater is collected and used on lawns and gardens it helps recharge aquifers and groundwater supplies, save water and plants love it. Learn more >>

Drain Responsibly

Do not drain water from pools, spas or hot tubs down the storm drain. Properly store and dispose of chemicals and additives according to the instructions on the label. Learn more>>

Paint Safe

All paints, solvents and adhesives contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life in our waterways. Make sure all liquid paint products and wastes do not enter our storm drains. Recycle unused and empty paints cans at an appropriate location.

© Image courtesy of Minette Layne