Landscaping and Yard Maintenance

You can have a beautiful lawn and garden while also preventing stormwater pollution.

Landscape Design and Irrigation Management to Save Water and Prevent Pesticide Runoff

With San Joaquin County having experienced local emergency drought conditions in recent years, it’s crucial to conserve water and protect the quality of our waterways. Conserving water in your yard helps prepare our community for current and future droughts. 

Additionally, proper design and management of the landscaping around our homes and businesses can help prevent pesticide runoff from these areas into local waterbodies. 

TAKE ACTION! Slow the flow by following the University of California’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program recommendations for pesticide-smart landscape design:

Help water soak into the ground.

  • Permeable surfaces: Use stones, pavers, gravel, mulch, or other materials that allow water to soak into the ground in areas where you don’t have plants.
  • Health soil: Aerate your soil and use organic material, like compost, as well as perforated drainage lines, to reduce areas of water pooling in your landscaping.
  • Reuse and recycle: Capture water from the shower and sink and use it to water plants in the house and out in the garden.
  • Install a water catchment system: A water catchment system, such as rain barrels, will collect rainwater which can be stored for dry months to water your garden.

Create landscape features to collect runoff water.

  • Landscape features: Consider using trees, rain gardens, terrace walls, rain barrels, or swales (long, shallow, grassy depressions) to hold water within the landscaped area and allow it to soak into the ground rather than draining directly to our surface waterways.
  • River-friendly gardening: Consider using river-friendly gardening approaches such as selecting appropriate plants, minimizing the use of chemical pesticides, and creating "hydrozones" by grouping plants according to water needs. Learn more about how to make your yard river-friendly on the Lodi Watershed Friendly Landscaping website or by following these River-Friendly Landscape Guidelines.
  • Native plants: Choose plants native to San Joaquin County. Native plants tend to be low-maintenance, drought tolerant, and they provide valuable habitat for native pollinators and birds. Use Calscape, a tool created by the California Native Plant Society, to search for plants native to your area.  

Install and properly operate irrigation systems and equipment.

  • Maintenance: Make sure your irrigation equipment is working properly by regularly inspecting it regularly.
  • Irrigation timers: Install timers that read real-time weather conditions and deliver exactly the amount of water your plants need.
  • Sunrise watering: Water your lawn early in the morning so that the water can soak into the soil before being evaporated by the sun.
  • Watch for rain: Don’t water your plants when rain is in the forecast. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, turn it off before rain events.

Additional Resources


Safe Use And Disposal Of Fertilizers

If used improperly, excess fertilizers in your yard can get washed by rain or irrigation water into the storm drain system and waterways. There, the nutrients in fertilizers can cause algal blooms that are harmful to local ecosystems and make water bodies unsafe to swim in. Follow these tips for safely using fertilizers in your yard:

  • Use slow-release fertilizers to minimize leaching.
  • Only apply fertilizer to planted areas, and keep fertilizer off walkways and bare areas.
  • After applying fertilizer, water just enough to wash fertilizer off the plants and into the soil. 
  • Avoid overwatering your yard to prevent fertilizer and water from running into storm drains.
  • Follow all instructions on the fertilizer package to ensure proper use.
  • Dispose of any unused fertilizer at a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility.


Hiring A Landscaping Professional

You don’t have to do it all alone. Use these directories to identify landscapers who prioritize water conservation and pollution prevention:

QWEL Pros  have been trained in efficient irrigation principles and sustainable landscaping practices to use water efficiently and prevent runoff.