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Photo credit: Andy Bauer.
Photo credit: Andy Bauer.
What is backyard conservation?
Protecting our watershed can start in your yard!
All around us, Washington County communities are growing. UrbanizationUrbanization The process of an area shifting from rural to urban land use. creates more impervious surfacesImpervious Surfaces Surfaces that water can’t pass through. and fragments natural spaces. The decisions we make at home greatly affect our community’s ability to protect our watershed. Discover simple ways you can increase wildlife habitat, reduce rainwater runoff, and decrease pollutantsPollutants A substance that has negative effects on the environment. in your yard.
How we can help:
We encourage anyone with a yard, no matter how big or small, to try naturescaping!
Naturescaping is the practice of creating healthy, low-maintenance landscapes that mimic nature. Naturescaped yards benefit people, water, and wildlife while also saving time and money.
Consider enrolling in the Backyard Habitat Certification Program. The intent of the program is simple: It provides advice, financial incentives, encouragement, and recognition to people who want to create natural, low-maintenance gardens that support people, wildlife, and the planet.
- Plant native species
Planting well-chosen native plants creates wildlife habitat and beautiful landscapes. Native species are adapted to our climate, so they require less water and chemicals. This relieves pressure on our water supply and keeps pesticides and fertilizers from polluting local creeks and streams.Learn More About Native Plants
- Support wildlife
You can create wildlife habitat by providing shelter, food, water, and other resources that birds, insects, mammals, and other species depend on to survive. Some simple ways to attract wildlife to your yard include layering vegetation, having plants that bloom at different times of the year, and creating nesting spaces.Learn More About Creating Wildlife Habitat
- Build healthy soil
Healthy soil is alive and essential to growing food and creating living landscapes. Consider using practices that keep your soil healthy, such as adding compost, minimizing disturbance, and keeping the soil covered.Learn More About Healthy Soil
- Manage rainwater
When rain washes over our roofs, driveways, and sidewalks, it picks up a variety of pollutants. This polluted rainwater drains into creeks and streams, impacting water quality and making these waterways unhealthy for people, fish, and wildlife. You can help address this problem by creating spaces that allow water to absorb into your landscape, like rain gardens, permeable walkways, or rain harvest systems.Learn More About Rainwater Management
- Be water wise
Even though we think of the Pacific Northwest as a place of abundant rainfall, watering our yards can deplete water systems and drain your pocketbook. If you do need to install irrigation, make sure every drop of water stays within your yard and doesn’t run off onto the street or sidewalk.Learn More About Irrigation Efficiency
- Ditch the lawn
Maintaining a lawn requires a lot of time, effort, chemicals, and water – and it can get expensive! Most lawns consist of only one or two species of grasses, which creates a barren landscape for wildlife and contributes to the loss of biodiversityBiodiversity The variety of species present.. By replacing lawn spaces with a pollinator garden or “meadowscape,” you can attract a variety of important pollinators.Learn More About Native Plants
- Control invasive species
Invasive plants harm our natural ecosystems by pushing out native plants, along with the beneficial insects and wildlife that rely on them. There are many effective ways to remove weeds from your yard.Learn More About Invasive Species
- Reduce pesticide use
Using pesticides to control unwanted bugs and weeds is dangerous to wildlife, pets, humans, and our waterways. Decreasing their use improves wildlife habitat and water quality. Visit Grow Smart, Grow Safe to find less-toxic products and weed/pest control methods.Visit growsmartgrowsafe.org
If you are interested in learning which backyard conservation practices may be best for you, contact our Urban Conservation Specialist today! We can discuss your goals, provide free resources to help apply conservation at your residence, and more.