Sustainable Practices for Landscape Professionals

Yard waste, sediments and toxic lawn and garden chemicals used in commercial landscape maintenance that make their way into the San Mateo County storm drain system do not get treated before reaching local creeks, the Bay, and the Ocean. These wastes and chemicals can pollute our drinking water and contaminate local waterways, making them unsafe for people and wildlife.


Follow these best management practices to prevent pollution, protect public health and avoid fines or legal action.


Recycle Yard Waste: Recycle leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste. Do not blow, sweep, rake or hose yard waste into the street. Let your customers know about grass cycling --the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing instead of using a grass catcher. Grass clippings will quickly decompose, returning valuable nutrients to the soil. You can get more information at CalRecycle.


Use Fertilizers, Herbicides & Pesticides Safely: Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are often carried into the storm drain system by sprinkler runoff. Use natural, non-toxic alternatives to traditional garden chemicals. If you must use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides spot apply rather than blanketing entire areas, avoid applying near curbs and driveways and never apply before a rain.


Recycle Hazardous Waste: Pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and motor oil contaminate landfills and should be disposed of through a Hazardous Waste Hauler or Facility.


Use Water Wisely: Conserve water and prevent runoff by controlling the amount of water and direction of sprinklers. Sprinklers should be on long enough to allow water to soak into the ground but not so long as to cause runoff. Periodically inspect, fix leaks and realign sprinkler heads.


Planting: Plant native vegetation to reduce the need of water, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.


Prevent Erosion: Erosion washes sediments, debris and toxic runoff into the storm drain system, polluting waterways. Prevent erosion and sediment runoff by using ground cover, berms and vegetation down-slope to capture runoff. Avoid excavation or grading during wet weather.


Store Materials Safely: Keep landscaping materials and debris away from the street, gutter and storm drains. On-site stockpiles of materials should be covered with plastic sheeting to protect from rain, wind and runoff.


Bay-Friendly Landscaping:
Bay-Friendly Landscaping is a whole systems approach to the design, construction and maintenance of the landscape in order to support the integrity of one of California's most magnificent ecosystems, the San Francisco Bay watershed.

Bay-Friendly Quailified Landscape Maintainance Professonal Training


The Bay-Friendly landscape professional can create and maintain healthy, beautiful and vibrant landscapes by:

  • Landscaping in harmony with the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay watershed.
  • Reducing waste and recycling materials.
  • Nurturing healthy soils while reducing fertilizer use.
  • Conserving water, energy and topsoil.
  • Using integrated pest management to minimize chemical use.
  • Reducing stormwater runoff.
  • Creating wildlife habitat.



Download entire Bay-Friendly Landscape Guidelines

Download chapters:


Chapter 1:
Introduction to Bay-Friendly Landscaping

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Chapter 2:
Bay-Friendly Landscaping Checklist

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Chapter 3:
Bay-Friendly Landscaping Practices

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Chapter 4:
Summary of Bay-Friendly Landscaping Benefits

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Chapter 5:
How to Start Landscaping in a Bay-Friendly Way

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For more information about Sustainable landscaping:
Streamside Planting Guide [261KB]

Don't Plant a Pest (pdf)

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (link) is an interdisciplinary effort to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.



For more information about Integrated Pest Management