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.
- Become a Bay-Wise gardener. The University of Maryland Extension Bay-Wise Program is a homeowner education program conducted by Maryland Master Gardeners in several counties. Get information about the Bay-Wise program here or read more about it in this article from Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Your efforts might even help your county meet its TMDL [Total Maximum Daily Load of Pollutants] and WIP [Watershed Implementation Plan], water pollution reduction plans that are required by the state as part of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
- If you live in the District of Columbia, check out the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment's RiverSmart programs for property owners, communities, and schools. These programs provide information and financial incentives for projects that keep polluted stormwater out of local waterways.
- Google "stormwater credit programs" in your state. If your state has a stormwater fee you might be able to receive a reduction by reducing stormwater runoff from your property.
- 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 how to plant a tree—watch our video.
- Get more information and resources about trees at TenMillionTrees.org.