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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 Stormwater

Photo Credit: Center for Neighborhood Technology

Protect the soil where your gutter downspout discharges. Redirect and slow stormwater with drainage tiles or splash blocks, or by letting downspouts flow into rain barrels, rain gardens or a permeable layer of rocks.

Prevent Erosion

Photo Credit: Susy Morris

Want a garden but have a sloped yard? Create contours parallel to the slope of your yard or build raised beds to keep your topsoil from entering the waterways.

Reduce Polluted Runoff

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, 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

Plant groundcover on sparsely vegetated areas of our lawn to discourage erosion and sediment runoff.

How to Construct a Compost Pile

Photo Credit: Kirsty Hall/Flickr

Composting is a cost-effective way to remove organic matter from the waste cycle and reduce your carbon footprint. Once you create compost, it can be used to feed your household and garden plants. (Read Article)

How to Build a Rain Barrel

Photo Credit: Will Merydith/Flickr

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

Create an Infiltration Trench

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

Create a Rain Garden

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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

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

Reduce Air Pollution

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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.

Reduce Polluted Runoff

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.

Reduce Polluted Runoff

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

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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

Knowing what nutrients are in your soil can help plants and the Bay! (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 your lawn needs (if any at all) 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

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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 plants are "native" and how to choose the best plants for your yard. (Read Article)

Plant Trees and Shrubs

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

Reduce Polluted Runoff

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.

Use Native Plants

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Plant native flowers, shrubs and trees. They often require less water and can attract birds, butterflies and honeybees.

Maintain Your Septic System

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

Pick Up Pet Waste

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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.

Use Fertilizer Properly

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

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.

Fertilize in the Fall

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

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.

Know Your Grass

Photo Credit: Max Wheeler/Flickr

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

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. Read on for some helpful guidelines for removing snow and ice the Bay-friendly way. (Read Article)

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