Bay-Friendly Tips: In Your Home & Backyard

Make Your Yard a Sponge…

…to soak up as much water a possible and prevent it from running off your lawn into streets and storm drains.

  • DO direct runoff from your roof and driveway onto grass and planted areas.
  • DO collect rainwater from your downspouts in rain barrels, and use this rainwater to water your yard and garden during drier summer months.
  • DO create rain gardens to collect and filter rainwater.
  • DO keep your lawn at least 3″ high to reduce runoff and soil evaporation
  • DO use pervious, or porous, materials, such as pavers, for driveways and walkways.

Download our Bay-Friendly Living Guide

Grow A Healthy Lawn without Chemical Fertilizer…

…and keep pollutants out of our waters.

  • DO leave grass clippings on the lawn. This free, natural fertilizer can provide up to one-third of your lawn’s nutrient needs.
  • DO use up to 1/2″ compost as a fertilizer to topdress your lawn or garden.

If you must fertilize:

  • DO test your soil first. If the pH of your soil is too law, the grass can’t absorb the fertilizer, no matter how much you use.
  • DO fertilize sparingly. Fall is the best time to fertilize, before October 15. If you must fertilize in spring, wait until your lawn greens up.
  • DON’T fertilize in the summer when your lawn is naturally dormant.
  • DON’T apply fertilizer immediately before or after a rainfall, which washes it off your lawn and into storm drains.
  • DO choose slow-release fertilizer that releases burtirnets over time and are less likely to run off or burn your lawn. Look for “water insoluble nitrogen” on the bag.


Bay-Friendly Lawn

Use Less Water…

…to reduce the amount of runoff flowing into our stormdrains and waterways.

  • DO let your lawn grow. Taller grass, kept at 3″ or more, shades the soil and roots, prevents weeds, retains moisture and requires less work of you.
  • DO leave your grass clippings on the lawn when you mow. Clippings help shade the soil and roots to reduce evaporation and provide natural fertilizer.
  • DO plant a lawn grass mix of tall and fine fescues, which require less water, fertilizer and maintenance.
  • DO let your lawn go dormant in summer. Lawns that turn brown and dry during the summer will green up when it rains.
  • DO embrace clover, which attracts pollinators and is a free source of fertilizer for your soil.

If you must water:

  • DO use a sprinkler timer so that you don’t overwater your lawn.
  • DO water in the early morning to reduce evaporation and avoid plant scalding by the sun.
  • DON’T allow your sprinkler to water paved surfaces.
  • DON’T water more than once a week, and DO let your lawn dry out between waterings.

Plant Native & Sustainable…

…trees and shrubs that are well adapted to our soils, light and climate without extra water and fertilizer.

  • DO plant native trees and shrubs, which provide a variety of food for wildlife.
  • DO plant native flowers, such as England aster, milkweed and bee balm to attract bees, birds and butterflies.
  • DO plant native grasses, such as switchgrass and little bluestem, which need less water.
  • DO choose organic ways to control pests, such as insecticidal soap. Make your won with 2 1/2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap and one gallon of water.
  • DON’T buy invasive trees and plants, or hybrids that require more water and fertilizer to care for.


Native Trees for Landscapes
  • American Holly, Ilex opaca
  • Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana
  • Red Maple, Acer rubrum
  • Shadbush, Amelanchier canadensis
  • Sweet Bay Magnolia, Magnolia virginiana L.
Common Native Perennials & Grasses
  • Blueflag Iris
  • Butterfly Milkweed
  • Goldenrod
  • New England Aster
  • Switchgrass
Common Native Shrubs
  • Arrowwood, Vibrunum dentatum
  • Bayberry, Myrica penslvanica
  • Black and Red Chokeberry, Photinia melanocarpa and P. pyrifolia
  • Highbush and Lowbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum and V. angustifolium
  • Inkberry, Ilex glabra
  • Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia
  • Steeplebush and Meadowsweet, Spiraea tomentosa and S. Latifolia
  • Sweet Fern, Comptonia peregrina
  • Sweet Pepperbush, Clethra alnifolia
  • Virginia Rose, Rosa virginiana
  • Winged Sumac, Rhus copallina

Plant a Rain Garden…

…to keep more water in your yard.

  • Plant your rain garden at least 10′ from your foundation.
  • Direct your downspouts toward the rain garden.
  • Till the soil to a depth of 18″ and add compost or sand to make a well-drained soil.
  • Make the center of the rain garden about 3″-8″ deeper than the outside edges – like a bowl.
  • Plant a combination of native flowers, shrubs, trees and grasses, putting the tallest plants in the deepest part of the garden.
  • Use 2″ of mulch to retain moisture.


Action Apps

Report pollution when you see it

Water ReporterThe Water Reporter App is the perfect way to let Save The Bay know when there’s a problem in our local waters. You can be our eyes and noses across the watershed. So if you see or smell anything that might be pollution, snap a photo, write a caption and send it to us on Water Reporter.

Available on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Hold your own shoreline cleanup

Clean Swell AppThe Clean Swell App lets volunteers upload important cleanup data in real-time to the world’s largest marine debris database. This database is used by scientists, conservation groups, governments and industry leaders to study ocean trash and take action to ensure trash never reaches our beaches.

Available on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Report flooding and storm surges

My Coast Logo

The MyCoast App lets you upload pictures that capture the highest tides, show storm damage and erosion and record localized flooding. By recording these events, you’ll help decision-makers, emergency managers and others make better decisions about how to protect our coastal communities and assets.

Available on the App StoreGet it on Google Play