Reduce Fertilizer Applications
When needed, only use appropriate fertilizers carefully. Do not use phosphorus containing fertilizers unless absolutely necessary, lawn fertilizer should not contain any phosphorus. Nutrient runoff is a major contributor to negative aquatic habitat impacts, including oxygen-depleted zones from excessive algal blooms promoted by overabundant plant nutrients such as phosphorus. Consider using compost or slow release organic fertilizers that are worked directly into the soil and have less chance of being taken away off site during a rain event. Creating the right soil conditions will allow you to have productive growth without many external inputs.
Limit the Use of Pesticides, Herbicides and Fungicides
If you must use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, only use nontoxic formulas, or even better, use an alternative practice. Consider hand pulling weeds or creating conditions favorable for plants to provide resources for a diversity of animals and insects to help control one population from becoming problematic. Lady bugs and praying mantises eat aphids, bats eat mosquitos, and several species of plants and trees have genetics that make them less susceptible to pest and disease problems. The best practice for reducing your reliance on pesticides, herbicides and fungicides is to put the right plant in the right place with natural site conditions that are most favorable for that particular plant. Planting Kentucky Bluegrass, which does best in full sun, in a shady area is likely to struggle and the area may be filled in with moss. Instead of applying a chemical to remove the moss, a different grass variety seed may have performed better and not given the moss a chance to take over.
Check with your local nursery or landscape professional to find out more information on what you can do to avoid using harmful chemicals which can ultimately find their way into our lakes, rivers and streams.
Prevent Erosion and Debris
If you are undergoing renovations, building construction or landscape work, be sure both you and the contractor take steps to minimize erosion and prevent soil from entering the sewer system. When you are raking leaves in the fall or cutting your grass in the summer, do not let this debris collect in the street or get down storm drains. If you have a storm drain near your property, be sure to keep it clean and free of debris.
Don’t Put Junk Down the Drain
Never flush or put down the sink drain any pills, paint, cleaners, or non-degradable products (such as babywipes or tampons). Pills and medications can be dropped off at your local pharmacy for proper disposal, cleaners and paints can be disposed of at any hazardous waste collection site.
To find out more information on proper disposal methods, please visit: http://www2.erie.gov/environment/index.php?q=waste-management-and-recycling
Maintain Your Car Responsibly
Keep up to date with your car maintenance and fix any leaks which may send harmful substances onto the road and ultimately enter the sewer system. When working on your car, dispose of motor oil, antifreeze and batteries at designated collection centers, and do not hose off any spilled chemical from your driveway into the street. If you wash your car, be sure to do it over your lawn or take it to a car-wash facility and use non-toxic biodegradable soap that is phosphate-free.
Consider Alternatives to Pavement
Instead of a typical concrete slab patio or driveway, consider using permeable pavers or other material that will allow water to infiltrate instead of runoff into the sewer system. (insert picture of permeable paver patio)
Disconnect the Downspout
If you have a gutter downspout that connects directly to an underground pipe, see if you can disconnect this connection and either direct the rain water from the gutters into a rain garden or a rain barrel
Minimize Ice-Melt Use
If you need to use ice-melt around your property, use an environmentally safe product and avoid the use of sodium chloride or urea.
Clean up Pet Waste
Do not leave pet waste around your yard to prevent harmful bacteria from entering the sewer system.