Global Menu


Climate Change and Sustainability Initiative

Natural Yard Care

Yards are spaces for individuals and families to relax and have fun. Natural Yard Care practices can:

  • Save you money by using less water and reusing yard waste and other organic materials
  • Create healthier spaces for you and your family by reducing the amount of pesticides and chemicals in your yard
  • Protect the environment by conserving water for in-stream flows, reducing the amount of pollutants entering waterways, and increasing backyard habitat areas for native animals and birds

5 Steps for Natural Yard Care*:

  1. Build healthy soils with compost and mulch
  2. Plant right for your site
  3. Smart watering
  4. Think twice before using pesticides
  5. Natural Lawn Care

1. Build healthy soils with compost and mulch

Compost it!

You can compost both your yard waste and food waste from your kitchen. Composting can be an easy addition to your gardening practices or a major hobby. For information and trainings on home composting visit Skagit Countys Composting Website.

If you cant compost at home, Skagit Soils also accepts organics for composting.

Mulch it!

Mulch can be produced from organic material like leaves, wood chips, compost, or grass clippings. Mulch can be spread in spring or fall around your plants to conserve water, prevent weeds, and feed the soil.

Need fertilizer? Go organic!

Overusing chemical pesticides and fertilizers can damage soil life, leading to soil compaction and unhealthy plants. Excess chemicals can also wash off your yard into ground water, rivers, lakes, and marine waters, where they can harm people and wildlife and decrease water quality. Using organic fertilizers helps reduce the amount of chemicals that may wash off your yard.

Other information sources:

2. Plant right for your site

Use Native and Low Water Use Plants

Visit the Skagit Conservation District site for information on conservation plants and the Skagit Conservation Districts native plant sale.

Increase Backyard Habitat

The four basic requirements for Backyard Habitat are:

  • Food: flowers and seeds of trees, shrubs and plants, and bird feeders with a variety of foods.
  • Water: a shallow water dish, birdbath, pond, wetland or moving water.
  • Shelter: a brush pile, rock piles, shrubs, trees and evergreen plants.
  • Places to raise young: snags, trees, shrubs, a wetland and bird, butterfly and bat boxes.

Information on Backyard Habitat projects and certification is available from the Fidalgo Backyard Habitat Project.

Other Information Sources:

3.Smart watering

Conserve Water (Skagit PUDs Landscaping and Irrigation Guide)

  • Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
  • Water in the evening or early morning when evaporation is least likely to occur. Drip irrigation may be used during the day with little water lost from evaporation. Do not water when it is windy.
  • Water only once a week. Weekly watering should be sufficient. Water less often if your plants need less moisture.

Collect Rain Water

Use Rain Barrels to collect rain water from off of your roof. Visit WSU or Skagit PUD for information on rain barrel installation, maintenance, and workshops. PUD holds Rain Barrel workshops for interested Skagit PUD customers. The rain barrels cost $50/ea. and participants receive one barrel at the workshop.

4. Think twice before using pesticides

Instead try using paper to avoid weeds in your garden, read Feeding Off Weeds with Newsprint.

5. Natural Lawn Care

Use mulching mowers and try composting your yard waste at home or take your yard waste to a disposal facility. Visit Skagit Countys website for information on Food and Yard Waste disposal facilities.

Other sources of information on Natural Yard Care practices:

*Adapted from Natural Yard Care: Five steps to make your piece of the planet a healthier place to live produced by the Washington State Department of Ecology