Keeping fish safe starts at home

Planting trees is just one tier of the solution for stormwater runoff.  The overall fix lies in an integrated approach that uses water conservation, water retention, flood management and pollution control strategies.  Neighborhoods and communities can utilize porous pavement, swales, holding tanks and riparian retention and treatment areas for example.  However, individual citizens can play a large part as well without a substantial dedication of financial resources.

By using natural yard care steps, it’s possible to have a great recreational space that requires less effort and is healthier for families, pets, wildlife and our nearby waterways.  It’s important to remember that unlike Vegas, what happens in your yard doesn’t stay in your yard.  In fact it’s quite the opposite.  If, for example, you use pesticides incorrectly the resulting excess will eventually wash into nearby storm drains and out to where salmon and other forms of wildlife exists.  Those products either damage fish and waterfowl directly or build up in their systems to cause reproductive harm and deformities and impair Salmon migratory behavior.  Studies have also shown increased health risks among families that use lawn and garden pesticides especially among pets and children.

One reason gardeners use a lot of lawn chemicals is the direct result of planting non-native plants.  Native plants act as attractants to native wildlife and often have built in resistance to insects and diseases that non-natives are missing.  The natives also tolerate our weather pattern of excess rain through the fall, winter and spring months and drought through the summer months.  That tolerance equates to less frequent watering and the plants look healthier, eliminating the impulse to try to “fix” them with fertilizer.  Eliminate much of the work associated with lawn care by using slow release fertilizers, mulching once a year, planting native plants in the soil and sun conditions they grow best in and using a variety of plants rather than a monoculture.

Only about 5 percent of the bugs in your yard are pests.   Use beneficial nematodes and vinegar or citrus products as natural pest controls.    If you learn to accept a little damage, nature may control how extensive it is or the plants may simply outgrow the injury.

Many of the lawn products stored in homes are hazardous to the environment.  It’s not safe to dump those items down the drain or toss them in the trash for the same reason using them is bad for the environment.  If you have hazardous chemicals at home, dispose of them properly by taking them to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 3510 S. Mullen St. in Tacoma.There’s no charge for City of Tacoma or Pierce County residents.  If you have a question about whether an item can be accepted at the facility, call (253) 591-5418 or go to  While you’re there, check out the City’s EnviroHouse green model home for more ideas.  For classes or seminars go online to the City of Tacoma’s Envirohouse.  Check out our events and lecture page for more gardening options.