A front-yard wetland in the late afternoon sun. Photo by Marcy Damon/CBF StaffBay-friendly landscaping, like this front yard wetland, can help reduce the amount of pollution that ends up in the Bay. Photo by Marcy Damon/CBF Staff

In Your Yard

Things You Can Do to Help the Chesapeake Bay

  • Don't litter—Reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the Bay.
  • Use fertilizer sparingly—Limit the amount of fertilizer used on your lawn and garden. Excessive levels of nutrients in the Bay lead to lower levels of oxygen needed for aquatic life.
  • Build a rain garden or rain barrel—Stormwater carries pollutants such as lawn chemicals from our yards into local waterways and the Bay. Rain gardens, backyard habitats, and rain barrels can minimize runoff and reduce yard work.
  • Scoop the poop—Make your neighbors happy and keep harmful nutrients and bacteria out of waterways by always cleaning up after your pet.

Source: Ten Things Marylanders Can Do to Reclaim the Bay, Maryland Department of the Environment

Every single person who lives in your neighborhood has a profound impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Help improve water quality in your backyard by making smart decisions in your home and by using Bay-friendly landscaping techniques. Smart landscaping choices can help reduce the Bay's biggest pollutants (sediments and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus) and restore natural filters. 

  • Bay-friendly landscaping increases native plant diversity; provides food, cover, and nesting areas for wildlife; and reduces the stormwater runoff (equally important in city and suburban gardens) that dumps sediment and pollutants in the Bay and its rivers and streams. You can also involve and educate your community by using Bay-friendly landscaping on community property near your home.
  • If you live on the water, build a living shoreline to prevent erosion, allow wildlife access, and beautify your waterfront. Read our Living Shorelines brochure (pdf).
  • In your landscaping, use native grasses or other plants that don’t require watering or fertilizing. Reduce or eliminate use of chemical herbicides and pesticides. Learn to live with a dandelion or two. Lawn fertilizers and chemicals are a big source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and toxic runoff. 
  • Avoid pouring toxic substances down storm drains. Don’t dump hazardous materials like solvents, paints, and preservatives. They go directly into streams and waterways to pollute the Bay. Use your county’s hazardous waste collection program instead.
  • Plant a tree. Besides providing oxygen to the atmosphere, trees hold soil in place with their roots, preventing erosion that runs into the Bay. They soak up fertilizers and other chemicals before they seep into waterways. And by shading your home in summer, they even reduce energy costs. 

Learn more about creating bay-friendly yards:

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