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Maintain Your Yard & Garden to Conserve & Protect Water Resources

Be careful when maintaining the grounds around your home because your activities may affect your community's water resources. Many people may depend on nearby groundwater wells or surface water reservoirs for their water supply.Pollution of groundwater or surface waters, such as ponds and streams, may affect the environment and the quality of drinking water. Overuse of water may affect the quantity of available water supplies, especially during dry periods. You can help reduce pollution and conserve water by following some simple guidelines. 

Lawn and Garden Care

-Have your soil tested to assess possible soil deficiencies.

-Use slow release organic fertilizers if recommended by soil test results.

-Applications during the fall promote healthy root development.

-Substitute natural controls, like pest resistant varieties of seeds and plants, and introduce beneficial species, such as ladybugs, bees, and bats. Additional alternatives to commercial chemicals can be obtained from the contacts listed at the end of this page.

-Apply environmentally friendly pesticides where necessary.

-Applications should be made during a dry period of time to prevent them from being washed away by rain.

-Be careful to avoid application to sidewalks and driveways.

-Create a "no application" zone around your garden.

-Dispose of unused chemicals properly at a household hazardous collection center.

Watering & Maintaining Your Lawn & Garden

-Minimize lawn areas by planting drought resistant native plants to reduce watering needs.

-Mow Grass 21/2-3" high with mulching mower or cut frequently to allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn. Grass clippings add nutrients to the yard thus minimizing the application of fertilizers. Grass clippings also help to conserve water by shading the soil from the hot sun.

-In your garden, use a soaker hose or trickle irrigation system.

-Collect rainwater in a barrel to water your garden.

-Water shrubs longer and less frequently since they have deeper root systems.

-Install a moisture sensor on your sprinkler system.

-Water in the morning to prevent wasting water from excessive evaporation.

-Only water when needed. Usually once per week is required. Most lawns and gardens only need 1" of water per week.

-Composting of leaves, grass clippings and vegetable wastes is an inexpensive way to improve the soil condition of your garden. Composting of these organic materials helps reduce watering needs by allowing the soil to retain more moisture.

-Apply mulch (wood chips, grass clippings) to your garden to help suppress weeds, reduce the need to water by keeping the soil moist, add organic matter to the soil and reduce soil erosion.

-Mulching your garden will also reduce the amount of herbicides needed to control weed growth.

Landscaping Design

-Maintain vegetated buffer areas around streams, ponds, wetlands and storm drains using a variety of plant types, not just grass. Vegetation traps sediment carried by runoff and helps consume nutrients such as nirate and phosphate from fertilizers and improperly functioning septic systems.

-Buffer areas should be at least ten feet in width, and even wider on steeper slopes.

-Plant gardens in shallow depressions at key locations to catch and retain runoff.

-To help reduce erosion, divert runoff away from steep slopes. Slopes should be well vegetated.

-Minimize lawn area and impervious surfaces such as sidewalks in favor of a variety of vegetation. Vegetation helps slow the flow of runoff thereby minimizing erosion and allowing more water to penetrate into the soil. Smaller lawns also mean less fertilizer and pesticide needs.

-Employ water-conserving landscaping practices known as xeriscaping to minimize water usage. Xeriscaping uses a selection of native and drought-resistant plants as ground cover and in mulched beds with only minimal grass areas. Use of xeriscaping can reduce water consumption by 25 to 75 percent.

These are just some landscaping and treatment techniques that are available to reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, conserve water and prevent pollution. 

More information may be obtained by contacting the following sources:

CT Department of Environmental Protection

79 Elm Street • Hartford, CT 06106-5127

Information: (860) 424-3000

Wetlands Management Section: (860) 424-3019

CT DEP Natural Resources Center: (860) 424-3540

Lawn and Garden Chemicals: (860) 424-3369

Pesticides (860) 424-3369


USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

North Farms Executive Park - Suite A

900 Northdrop Road • Wallingford, CT 06492

(800) 805-8313 • (203) 269-7509 • (203) 787-0390

UCONN Cooperative Extension System

Gardening: (203) 797-4376

Connecticut Agricultural Station

(203) 789-7272

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