Using Your Yard to Protect Water

Everything you do on land affects the health of our water.

However, there are simple things everyone can do to make water healthier!
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In addition to resources found here, Master Water Stewards are available to provide individualized help

Reduce pollution coming from your yard

Use native plants when you can.

Not only do native plant roots penetrate into the soil more deeply than grass and other common landscaping options, they provide a wonderful habitat for butterflies, birds, and many other critters. Learn more here.

Reduce or eliminate fertilizers and pesticides.

Excess nutrients in fertilizers and harmful chemicals in pesticides can cause toxic algal blooms and can kill off beneficial earthworms and organisms that are essential for plants to grow. Follow this link to read about how you can grow a healthy, no-waste lawn and garden.

Limit the amount of lawn or turf areas.

This is especially important if you live along a water body as native plants and non-turf plantings act as a natural buffer zone that reduces runoff and intercepts harmful excess nutrients before they can reach the water. The DNR has created a useful information sheet on natural buffers and landscaping that can be viewed here.

Check out this Iowa-based page for tips on rainscapes and how you can implement them in your yard.

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Capture your stormwater

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Direct rain gutters to your lawn or other garden areas

Changing how water flows off your house can stop untreated contaminants from entering our storm sewers and allow more water to soak into the ground.

Replace hard surfaces with paths that absorb water

Replacing things like pavers and concrete with paths can stop that water from running directly off your property and into the street. Instead, water can be absorbed into the ground, allowing for filtration of potentially harmful contaminants.

Install a rain barrel

Rain barrels are a great way to collect excess water that can be used to in a number of ways from watering landscaping to irrigating flowering plants. Not only is it environmentally conscious, it can also help you save money on your water bill every month!

Learn more about the latest yard and gardening news at the University of Minnesota.

Minimize contaminants in your local lake, river or stream

Sweep up clippings and debris from sidewalks

Plant and leaf litter act as a nutrient for algae and in excess they can cause toxic algae blooms. Algae blooms remove oxygen from the water and make it difficult for other plants and fish to thrive. Learn how to manage your lawn clippings here.

In the winter, use less salt on your sidewalks and driveway

Chloride contained in just one teaspoon of road salt can permanently contaminate five gallons water. Chloride in aquatic environments can kill birds and plants. Learn how a little bit of salt can go a long way.

Host a Community Clean-Up for Water Quality

A Community Clean-Up for Water Quality is a prefect way to get your neighbors and community involved in water quality issues in your neighborhood. It's also a great way you can ensure the continued safety, reliability, and beauty of water in your community.

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Additional guidelines:

Use our Stormwater Conservation Calculator to see how much water a rain garden or rain barrel in your yard could save.

In addition, ask a Master Water Steward for advice on how to improve stormwater runoff in your yard or apply today to become a Master Water Steward yourself and gain expertise in these areas.