Natural Yard Care

Make Space for Wildlife

You can invite birds, butterflies, and other wildlife into your yard, protect shorelines and salmon, and make a more attractive landscape by planting trees and native plants, especially ones with fruit and flowers. Avoid exotic plants or state-designated “noxious weeds”. You can check King County’s website, for more information on noxious weeds. Plant in layers (ground cover, shrubs, and trees) so your landscape is like the forest.
Avoid using pesticides – they can poison birds, beneficial insects, and salmon when rain washes them through storm drains into streams. Provide a bird bath or other small water source. leave dead standing trees and brush piles as homes for wildlife. Leave wild “buffer” areas of native plants along ravines, streams, shoreline, and fence lines.

Put Nature to Work in Your Yard

Nature wastes nothing. In natural landscapes, soil life recycles dead plants into food for new plant growth. Plants are adapted to the water, sun, and soil available in their site. And the wide variety of plants, soil organisms, insects, and animals keeps most pests and diseases in check. By working with nature in your yard, you can have a great looking landscape that’s easier to care for and healthier for families, pets, wildlife, and our great Washington environment. Make your piece of the planet a healthier place to live.

Save money and beautify your yard. How? It’s easy… Start with these 5 steps:
  • Build healthy soil - add compost and nutrients
  • Plant right for your site - choose drought-tolerant plants
  • Practice smart watering - make every drop count
  • Think twice before using pesticides - go natural
  • Practice natural lawn care - mulching is cheap and easy
For more information view the Natural Yard Care Brochure (PDF).
Flower & Vegetable Gardens
Mulch flower and vegetable beds with compost or grass clippings to conserve water and control weeds. Use fabric row covers to keep pests off sensitive vegetables. Identify bugs before you spray, squash, or stomp – they may be “good bugs” that eat pests.

Tree & Shrub Beds
Mulch shrub and tree beds with wood chips, leaves, or bark once a year to conserve water, reduce weeds, and feed the soil.

Mow regularly and leave the clippings on the lawn. Keep mower blades sharp to reduce lawn damage and brown tips. Consider saving water by letting some areas (ones that don’t get heavy traffic) go brown and dormant until fall.
Garden Door
Start and re-check watering systems, and adjust for weather. Don’t water when it rains. Water lawns 1 inch per week, or let go brown and dormant (but water enough to moisten root zone once a month). Water at dawn or in evening to reduce evaporation.

Harvest compost from your bin. Throw any uncomposted sticks or stalks back in for another cycle. Add yard debris to compost pile; water pile to keep moist. Place pile in shade or cover to hold moisture.