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Gardening advice from the Department of Ecology

gardening advice Are you smelling the fresh cut grass, seeing the beautiful flowers bloom, and hearing the birds sing? Yes, it's springtime! Springtime also means mowing the yard, pulling weeds, and raking flower or garden beds. The Department of Ecology would like to share some helpful gardening hints.
   Try to pull weeds instead of poisoning them with chemicals. Chemical pesticides can pose hazards to humans, pets, and the environment. Chemicals kill the good as well as the bad plants and bugs. Contamination of water supply can occur when pesticides are applied just before a heavy rainfall and can run off into a nearby stream or storm drain.
   Always use only enough fertilizer necessary to feed plants. Excessive use of fertilizers can contaminate the water supply because it is washed by rain or irrigation into drainage systems. Fertilizers encourage rapid growth of plants and algae in lakes and streams causing harm to aquatic life and threatening the safety of boaters, swimmers and anglers. Providing needed nutrients and moisture and the right plant placement creates a healthy pest-resistant plant.
   Compost yard waste. Composting instead of burning, landfilling, and littering protects our air, land, and water resources. Outdoor burning releases carbon monoxide and tiny particles of soot, dust and unburned fuel into the air. Disposing of yard waste at the landfill increases the volume of solid waste. Grass clippings in ditches can pollute the water when they disintegrate. Composting saves you money, turns yard waste into a personal resouce, benefits soil and plants, and saves landfill space.
   When watering, make sure water goes only where it's supposed to and when needed. Water in the evening or early morning and when the wind is not blowing. This reduces evaporation. Water shrubs and plants separately from lawns. Plants have different needs and may be over-watered if watered at the same time as lawns.
   Finally, service gas-powered lawn equipment. Having lawn mowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, etc., tuned up means fewer pollutants coming from their exhaust and fluid leaks on the ground. Dispose of wastes safely because improper disposal of petroleum products can lead to serious water pollution.