In My Backyard

Water pollution affects everyone and everything. Many of today’s water quality problems are caused by activities on the land.

There are many ways you can help in your own backyard!

  • Do not discard or dump any trash, oil, or chemicals into storm drains. Storm drains lead directly into our waterways.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks.
  • Keep your grass two to three inches high to retain the soil’s moisture.
  • Use low pressure, perforated hoses for watering instead of sprinklers.
  • Form ditches around plants to prevent runoff.
  • Use mulch to reduce water evaporation from the soil.
  • Water your lawn in the morning or evening to prevent excess evaporation.
  • Be careful of watering your lawns in the summer months – Your grass needs only one inch of water every 5 to 7 days!
  • Plant vegetation that is native. It will withstand drought conditions and require less watering than nonnative species.
  • Consider using sand or regular kitty litter as a less toxic alternative to deicers in the winter
  • Have routine maintenance of your car to prevent and identify potential leaks.
  • Wash your car on your lawn instead of on your driveway. The water will drain into your lawn instead of flowing down a storm drains, which leads directly to local streams. Or take your car to a local car wash; they recycle the water that is used.
  • Start a compost pile! Composting recycles yard waste, prevents weed growth and erosion, conserves soil moisture, and stabilizes soil temperature. Grass clippings, egg shells, wood chips, and tree bark work all well as compost.
  • Place a rain barrel underneath rain spouts. The water can then be used for gardening needs.
  • Aim downspouts onto grassy areas of your yard that flow away from your house, not on driveways or walkways. This allows the ground to absorb the water instead of having the water be flushed into storm drains. A wooded or garden area absorbs more water than turf grass
  • Test your soil. Contact Penn State University’s Cooperative Extension in Berks County to request a soil test at 610-378-1327 or visit
  • If you do need to fertilize your lawn, never apply more than is recommended – too much can burn your lawn. Also, do not fertilize before a rain storm, and keep fertilizer off sidewalks and driveways where it can easily wash into storm drains
  • Plant a rain garden. Rain gardens contain native plant species that retain stormwater runoff and allow the water to soak back into the ground at a natural rate. The native plants can withstand times of either drought or flood and offer an aesthetic quality to a yard as well as a much needed pollution prevention technique!

Explore places you can make a difference!

Berks County Conservation District 1238 County Welfare Road, Suite 200, Leesport, PA 19533  •  610-372-4657

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