Landscape Gardening & Pest Control


Landscaping and garden maintenance activities can be major contributors to ocean pollution. Soils, yard wastes, over watering and garden chemicals become part of the urban runoff mix that winds its way through streets, gutters and storm drains before entering the ocean.

Poorly functioning sprinklers and over watering, for example, waste water and increase the number of pollutants flowing into storm drains.

Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are washed off lawns and landscaped areas. These chemicals not only kill garden invaders, they also harm useful insects, poison fish and contaminate ground and ocean water.

Leaves, grass clippings and tree trimmings that are swept or blown into the street and gutter are also ocean polluters. These wastes clog catch basins, increasing the risk of flooding on your street, and carry garden chemicals into the ocean. As they decompose, they also absorb oxygen fish need to survive.


General Landscaping Tips

  • Protect stockpiles and materials from wind and rain by storing them under tarps or secured plastic sheeting.

  • Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather.

  • Use temporary check dams or ditches to divert runoff away from storm drains.

  • Prevent erosion by planting fast-growing annual and perennial grasses. These will shield and bind the soil.

Garden & Lawn Maintenance

  • Do not over water. Conserve water by using irrigation practices such as drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or micro-spray system

  • In communities with curbside yard waste recycling, leave clippings and pruning waste for pickup in approved containers. Or, take clippings to a landfill that composts yard waste.

  • Do not blow or rake leaves into the street, gutter or storm drains.

  • Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers.

  • Do not over fertilize and do not fertilize near ditches, streams or other water bodies.

  • Store pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals in a covered area to prevent runoff.

Pesticide Alternatives

The "chemicals-only" approach to pest control is only a temporary fix.

A more common-sense approach is needed for a long-term solution. It's called: Integrated Pest Management. Plan your "IPM" strategy in this order:

A) Physical Controls

  • Caulking holes

  • Barriers

  • Hand picking

  • Traps

B) Biological Controls

  • Predatory insects e.g. Green lacewings eat aphids

  • Bacterial insecticides e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis kills caterpillars

C) Chemical Controls - Your last Resort Use these least-toxic products:

  • Dehydrating dusts (e.g. silica gel)

  • Insecticidal soaps

  • boric acid powder

  • Horticultural oils

  • Pyrethrin-based insecticides

Safe Substitutes for Pest Control

  • Garden Aphids and Mites - Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and 1 cup of vegetable oil Add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to a cup of water and spray. (Oil may harm vegetable plants in the cabbage family.)

  • Caterpillars - When caterpillars are eating, apply products containing Bacillus thuringiensis to leases.

  • Ants - Place boric acid dust or hydramethylnon baits in problem areas, cracks and insect walkways. Be sure it is inaccessible to children and pets (it is a mild poison).

  • Roaches - Apply boric acid dust to cracks and entry points (see ants above). Play bay leaves on pantry shelves.

If You Muse Use Pesticides

  • Use a pesticide that is specifically designed to control your pest. The insect should be listed on the label. Approximately 90% of the insects on your lawn and garden are not harmful.

  • Read labels! Use only as directed. In their zeal to control the problem, many gardeners use pesticides at over 20 times the rate farmers do.

Pesticide Disposal

  • Household toxics - such as pesticides, cleansers, and motor oil - can pollute the ocean and poison ground water if disposed of in storm drains or gutters.

  • Rinse empty pesticide containers and use rinse water as you would the product. Dispose the empty rinsed containers in the trash.

  • Los Angeles County residents can dispose of unused household toxics at the Household Hazardous Waster Roundups instead of dumping them into the sink, street, gutter or storm drain. Call (800) 552-5218 for more information.