5 tips for a Bay-friendly yard

When talking about reducing and preventing pollution to our waterways, we often focus on the big actors, like storm water runoff and agriculture. But the truth is, we can all make a difference! Here are five tips for a bay-friendly yard.

The Bay is getting healthier. Which means all your hard work is paying off. According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2016 State of the Bay, “We are seeing the clearest water in decades, regrowth of acres of lush underwater grass beds, and the comeback of the Chesapeake's native oysters, which were nearly eradicated by disease, pollution, and overfishing.”

However, the Chesapeake Bay carries a heavy load. Fifty major rivers and their creeks and streams pour into the Bay from six states. All the farms, lawns, storm water runoff, and sewage treatment plants from this vast watershed drain into the Bay. These inputs place enormous pressure on the Bay in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution. Because the Bay is so shallow, a little pollution goes a long way. Just take a look at the images from this summer’s heavy rains and you’ll see how important it is to protect and restore our waters.

Removing a little pollution can make a big difference. Yards and even ditches can be designed to filter and clean water before it reaches the Bay. Here are a few things you can do at home:


  1. Plant more natives and create a denser green filter on your property. Native species keep soil on the land and the nutrients in place. Native plants also support more native insects and animals because they evolved together! Fall is the perfect time to plant. Check out this native plant guide to find beautiful plants for your yard.
  2. Have permeable walkways and driveways that allow rainwater to filter through instead of runoff your property.
  3. Build a rain garden that filters the water from your gutter into pebbles and native plants preventing runoff.
  4. Avoid applying fertilizer right before spring rains wash it away.
  5. Make your ditches bay-friendly as well. A group in Maryland has developed designer ditches that reduce erosion and filter pollutants. They have wonderful resources here.


Supporting land conservation also improves the health of the Bay! Your support reduces development pressure and protects forests and buffers that provide critical filtration in the Bay watershed. Thank you for saving the land and waters you love!