Text Size: A  A  A

How To's and Tips

For Bay restoration to be a success, we all must do our part. Our everyday actions - from fertilizing our lawns and using water to driving our cars to work and school - have a major impact on the Bay, one that can't be fixed by government and non-profit restoration partners alone. By making simple changes in our lives, each one of us can take part in restoring the Bay and its rivers for future generations to enjoy.

Reduce Food Waste

Photo Credit: ThamKC/Shutterstock

Don't throw egg shells in the trash—use them in garden as fertilizer, pest control or mulch.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: sangkhom sangkakam/Shutterstock

If you water your lawn, do so in the early morning, when the water will not evaporate in the heat of the day. Make sure the water gets completely on the lawn, not on sidewalks or driveways.

Reduce Herbicide Use

Photo Credit: Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock

Instead of chemical weed killers, try dousing weeds with boiling water, table salt or vinegar, or pulling them out and digging up the roots.

How to Begin Birding This Winter

Photo Credit: Daniele Zani/Flickr

Cold weather doesn’t have to keep you from exploring nature in the Bay region. Winter bird watching is a great way to learn more about local wildlife and contribute to citizen science. (Read Article)

Reduce Runoff

Photo Credit: Center for Neighborhood Technology

Protect the soil below your gutter downspout by using drainage tiles or splash blocks to redirect and slow stormwater, or by letting downspouts flow into rain barrels, rain gardens or a permeable layer of rocks.

Prevent Erosion

Photo Credit: Susy Morris

Trying to build a garden on a sloped yard? To keep your topsoil from running into local waterways, you can build raised beds or create contours parallel to the slope of your yard.

Avoid Pesticide Pollution

Photo Credit: Andy Powell

If a pesticide spills or leaks, don't use a hose to clean up. Soak up the liquid with an absorbent material like sawdust or kitty litter, then sweep the material into a plastic bag and clean the area with a mixture of water and bleach.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Stanley Zimny/Flickr

Let trees create their own mulch! Allow leaves and other plant matter to collect under your trees to maintain moisture, control temperature and prevent erosion.

Reduce Erosion

Photo Credit: Patrick Standish/Flickr

Planting groundcover on sparsely vegetated areas of your lawn discourages erosion and sediment runoff.

How to Construct a Compost Pile

Photo Credit: Kirsty Hall/Flickr

Composting is a cost-effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and put organic waste to work. Your homemade compost can then be used to feed household and garden plants. (Read Article)

How to Build a Rain Barrel

Photo Credit: Will Merydith/Flickr

Rain barrels collect and store rainwater that runs out of a downspout or off of a roof, keeping runoff out of our rivers and streams. While unsafe for drinking, this water can be used to water plants or wash cars. (Read Article)

Create an Infiltration Trench

Photo Credit: Sustainable_Sanitation/Flickr

Infiltration trenches are one of the most effective ways to keep polluted stormwater from reaching local waterways.

Create a Rain Garden

Photo Credit: Linda_N/Flickr

Rain gardens can add value to your home and absorb more water than a conventional lawn.

Create a Stormwater Pond

Photo Credit: Aaron Volkening/Flickr

Create a stormwater pond to collect runoff and protect downstream property owners from flooding.

How to Dispose of Leaves the Bay-Friendly Way

Photo Credit: psyberartist/Flickr

Fallen leaves don't have to end up in the landfill or the burn pile. Instead, consider mulching, composting or curbside collection. (Read Article)

Reduce Air Pollution

Photo Credit: SarahMcGowan/Flickr

Use electric or manual lawn mowers and yard tools instead of gas-powered machines that can pollute our air.

Reduce Pesticide Use

Photo Credit: Scott Akerman/Flickr

Instead of applying chemical pesticides to your sidewalk or garden, use boiling water to kill weeds, ant colonies and other pests.

Improve Wildlife Habitat

Photo Credit: Chad Horwedel/Flickr

Plant a wide variety of plants, trees and shrubs in your yard to attract different kinds of wildlife.

Prevent Soil Erosion

Photo Credit: Mike Hiatt/Flickr

Spread mulch over bare ground to prevent soil erosion and stop the flow of polluted runoff from your lawn into local waterways.

Avoid Paved Surfaces

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Instead of asphalt or concrete, use porous surfaces like gravel or pavers to pave your driveway or patio.

Use Fertilizer Properly

Photo Credit: eddie.welker/Flickr

Do not apply fertilizer to dormant lawns or frozen ground, where it could easily run off your property and into storm drains.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Joby Elliott/Flickr

Instead of sprinklers, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water your lawn and garden.

How to Test Your Soil

Photo Credit: Image courtesy Flatbush Gardener/Flickr

A simple test can let you know what nutrients are in your soil, and what nutrients are lacking. Learn how to test your soil to help garden plants grow their best. (Read Article)

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: daryl_mitchell / Flickr

Make sure your home's downspouts drain onto grass or gravel rather than paved driveways or sidewalks.

Test Your Soil

Photo Credit: Team Tanenbaum/Flickr

Test your soil to determine how much fertilizer—if any—your lawn needs and the best time to apply it.

Don't Overapply Fertilizer

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Use only the amount of lawn fertilizer you need. Twice the product won't make your lawn twice as green!

Compost Kitchen Scraps

Photo Credit: SaltyGrease/Flickr

Instead of throwing kitchen scraps down the garbage disposal, compost them to create a rich soil for potted and in-ground plants.

How to Choose and Use Native Plants

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Planting native plants is an excellent way to increase wildlife habitat and help the Chesapeake Bay. Learn which trees, shrubs and flowers are native and how to choose the best plants for your yard. (Read Article)

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Photo Credit: ds4832/Flickr

Plant more trees and shrubs in your yard to reduce erosion, capture runoff and provide habitat for wildlife.

Use Deicer Properly

Photo Credit: Marvin O./Flickr

Apply no more than the recommended amount of deicer to melt ice on your steps or driveway.

Use Pesticides Properly

Photo Credit: Michelle Tribe/Flickr

Never use more pesticides than you need. Take care to store chemicals properly so containers do not leak.

Maintain Your Septic System

Photo Credit: ds4832/Flickr

Do not plant trees or shrubs near your septic drain field. Roots clog septic drain lines and cause overflows.

Pick Up Pet Waste

Photo Credit: rolftoch/Flickr

Pick up after your pet. Pet waste contains nutrients and bacteria that can wash into local waterways if left on the ground.

Reduce Pesticide Use

Photo Credit: Scott Robinson/Flickr

Make your own garden insect repellents using common household items like garlic, vinegar and cooking oil.

Maintain Your Septic System

Photo Credit: WindRanch/Flickr

Have your septic system pumped out every three to five years to prevent accidental sewage overflows.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Plant a buffer of trees and shrubs around the edge of your property to capture polluted runoff.

Install a Rain Barrel

Photo Credit: robertstinnett/Flickr

Install a rain barrel underneath your home's downspout to capture rainwater from your roof. You can use this water to keep your garden green.

Keep Fertilizer Off Hard Surfaces

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Keep lawn fertilizer off hard surfaces like walkways and driveways, where it can easily wash into storm drains.

Don't Use Fertilizer as a Deicer

Photo Credit: eddie.welker/Flickr

Never use lawn fertilizer as a deicer. It contains nutrients that can run off your property and pollute local waterways.

Compost Fallen Leaves

Photo Credit: mksfly/Flickr

Instead of spending hours raking, blowing and bagging fallen leaves, try composting them instead.

"Grasscycle" Lawn Clippings

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Instead of fertilizing, leave leftover grass clippings on your lawn for a natural source of nitrogen.

Use Safer Pesticides

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Use weed and insect-control products that contain plant-derived, non-toxic ingredients.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Siddhartha Lammata/Flickr

Water your lawn and garden in the early morning or early evening to reduce evaporation and save water.

Fertilize in the Fall

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

If you need to fertilize your lawn, do it during the fall months. Spring rains will wash fertilizer off lawns and into local waters.

Know Your Grass

Photo Credit: Max Wheeler/Flickr

Identify the type of grass growing in your yard so you can care for it properly. For example, cool-season grasses are best fertilized in fall.

Use Fertilizer Properly

Photo Credit: thomasbrandt/Flickr

Make sure to not apply fertilizer to drainage areas in your yard, where it could easily run off your property.

Use Native Plants

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Native flowers, shrubs and trees often require less water and can provide food and habitat for birds, butterflies and honeybees.

How to Deice the Bay-Friendly Way

Photo Credit: user/Flickr

In large doses, many popular snow and ice removal methods can be harmful to our local waterways. There are many ways to keep walkways safe while also helping to reduce pollution. (Read Article)

410 Severn Avenue / Suite 112
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY / Fax: (410) 267-5777
Directions to the Bay Program Office
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
©2012 Chesapeake Bay Program | All Rights Reserved