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Thurston County Stormwater Utility

Common-Sense Lawn Care Tips

water wiselyWater runoff can carry pesticides, fertilizers, and grass clippings into storm drains, and pollute streams, lakes and Puget Sound. Follow these common-sense lawn care tips to create a beautiful garden while protecting our water resources.

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Grow Smart, Grow Safe

Water Wisely

A healthy, green lawn needs no more than one inch of water per week. To measure, place empty tuna cans, or similar containers, around your lawn while your sprinkler is running. Time how long it takes to fill the cans one inch. This is the amount of time you should water your lawn each non-rainy week. 

Another option is to let your lawn go dormant over the summer. A deep watering once per rainless month will let your lawn revive quickly when fall rains return.

If necessary, turn off your sprinkler, wait a short while for the water to soak into the ground, and then resume watering.

Keep Grass Clippings Away from Streets and Storm Drains

When grass clippings, leaves, and other yard materials are blown onto streets, the materials are eventually washed into the drainage system during the first rain. Yard debris is organic, so when it enters water bodies, it can deplete oxygen levels and harm aquatic life.

Please keep grass clippings off of the road and away from storm drains.  Here are some alternatives:

  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings will provide 1/3 to 1/4 of the nutrients your lawn needs in a year, thus saving you one fertilizer application per year!  (Grass clippings do not cause thatch build-up in the lawn. Thatch is last year’s roots and stems, not clippings.)
  • Take clippings to the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center Yard Debris site, or subscribe to curbside yard service.
  • Compost leaves and grass clippings at home. (Click here for composting workshops.)

Reduce Use of Pesticides and Synthetic Fertilizers

Choose the right plants for the right areas to reduce the need for dangerous chemicals in your yard. WSU Master Gardeners can help you select plants that are ideal for your property. Here are some other tips:

  • Before planting, improve your soil by adding 3 to 6 inches of compost.
  • Use natural fertilizers such as cotton seed meal, bone meal and fish fertilizer.
  • Use less toxic alternatives for pests, such as beer traps for slugs.
  • Avoid the use of "weed-and-feed" products.
  • If an herbicide is necessary, spot spray just the weeds, not the entire lawn.
  • Excess or unwanted lawn and garden chemicals do not belong in the trash. Bring them to the HazoHouse at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center.

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Grow Smart, Grow Safe


Contact Us

 Staff contact: Ann Marie Pearce: (360) 754-4681. E-mail: pearcea@co.thurston.wa.us


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