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Water and Air Quality: Every Gardener Should Know

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Water Quality

River-Friendly Landscaping practices protect water quality by reducing/eliminating pollutants that would otherwise end up in our waterways. One htmlect of River-Friendly Landscaping is University of California, Davis IPMIntegrated Pest Management (IPM) — a holistic approach to controlling insects, plant diseases, weeds, and other pests. University of California’s IPM program/UC-IPM is an excellent source of information on IPM practices.

Making a Difference

You can help keep our waterways clean:

  • Choose plants that use fewer water-polluting chemicals to stay healthy
  • Adopt IPM practices using non-chemical methods to control weeds and insect pests
  • Create your own Rain Garden, landscape with mulch, and use pervious concrete, to increase on-site infiltration and reduce runoff
  • Keep soil covered to reduce soil erosion
  • Plant trees to increase soil stability
  • Keep pesticides off hard surfaces where they can be easily washed into the storm drain system

Using Alternative Control Methods

There are many ways to control pests other than by pesticides.
Mulch – Eliminate or mow weeds before they go to seed to keep them from spreading. Mulch suppresses weeds and makes those that do grow easier to pull.
Insect Pests. Check out Our Water – Our World for ways to control insect pests that reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides.

The Sacramento County Stormwater Quality Partnership encourages River-Friendly Landscaping as a means to improve the water quality of our local creeks and rivers.

Air Quality

Compared to standard landscaping practices, River-Friendly Landscaping practices promote better air quality:

  • by reducing the pollutants released into the air by power equipment and vehicles
  • by removing pollutants from the air by planting trees.

Low emissions – Consider upgrading to low emission equipment. Use hand tools where feasible. Gas powered garden tools (lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers, etc.) emit 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. According to the US EPA, a gas-powered lawn mower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car, per hour of use. Consider upgrading to low emission equipment. Use hand tools where feasible.

Compost or reuse plant debris on site. Plant debris hauled to the landfill in vehicles also results in polluting the air. Additionally, materials placed in a landfill frequently decompose without oxygen, emitting more greenhouse gases. Instead, compost or reuse plant debris on site.

Plant trees! Trees help clean and cool the air by absorbing dirty air and removing pollutants. The USDA Forest Service, Center for Urban Forest Research estimates that the 6 million existing trees in the Sacramento region remove approximately 4,000,000 lbs of air pollutants annually. Trees also intercept significant amounts of rainfall each year, on the order of 500 gallons for every large tree, thus helping to control stormwater runoff.

  • Select trees that match the microclimate and soil characteristics.
  • Select California natives or other low water use species.
  • Sacramento Shade, a partnership between SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation, offers over 30 types of free shade trees. Contact the Sacramento Tree Foundation at (916) 924-8733 ext 121 for more information.
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By Elissa Sanci

Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website GardenProducts.org, graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.

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