ARC logo    Healthy Habits

In Your Yard

Practicing healthy habits in your yard not only protects water quality, it improves habitat and attracts butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds to your yard. Healthy habits help filter pollutants before they reach the Rouge River. Healthy habits make it easier and less costly to maintain your yard, all while keeping it looking beautiful.


Utilize non-toxic cleaning alternatives whenever possible. Common household items such as white vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can serve a multitude of cleaning functions. If you have a compost pile and live on the water, keep it away from the waters edge to eliminate the chance of runoff from these piles contributing excess nutrients to the water. Never dump items such as used motor oil, cleaners, paint or other materials down a storm drain. Storm drains flow directly to the river without any treatment. No dumping on the ground or into your septic system either, as this could cause materials to seep into soils and contaminate the groundwater supply. Check your community’s website for the next household hazardous waste event and dispose of it there.
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Use non-toxic alternatives
when cleaning items outside.


Redirect downspouts away from hard, paved surfaces into vegetated areas, such as a rain garden, or into a rain barrel for later use in your garden which will save on your water bill! Rain gardens are growing in popularity because they look great and filter pollutants out of runoff allowing clean water to infiltrate and replenish groundwater supplies.
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Install a rain barrel to collect
free water for use in your garden.


Always pick up pet waste promptly and dispose of it in the trash - even in the winter. When it rains or the snow melts, bacteria from pet waste that isn’t picked up can wash directly into storm drains and drainage ditches and eventually into the Rouge River. Don’t feed ducks or geese, they become dependent on the food from humans and tend to congregate in one place expecting more food. This can lead to the concentration of droppings which adds excess nutrients and harmful bacteria to waterways.
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Pick up after your pet.


Cutting the grass too short can lead to plant stress, shallow root systems and turf that is more prone to pests and weeds. A healthy height for grass is 3 inches. Think about mulching your grass clippings back onto the lawn instead of bagging it. They will quickly break down and provide free nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Sweep excess grass clippings off hard or paved surfaces and back onto the lawn to prevent them from getting washed into the storm drains. Collect or mulch leaves soon after they fall so they don’t get carried into lakes and streams through storm drains or with the wind where they can add excess nutrients. Rather than raking and bagging your leaves, mulch them into your lawn which acts as a natural fertilizer and adds organic matter to the soil.

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Mulch leaves into your lawn
which acts as a natural fertilizer.


Don’t overuse pesticides or fertilizers and save some money! Many of them contain hazardous chemicals which can travel through the soil and contaminate ground water. Sweep excess fertilizer particles off paved surfaces and back onto the lawn. Don’t fertilize right before a heavy rain, use your sprinkler or hose to lightly water after fertilizing to move the nutrients into the root zone of the soil. Consider fertilizing only once a year and put some cash back in your pocket! late summer or early fall is best since this is the time when the roots store nutrients over the winter months for future use in the spring growth season.
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Sweep excess fertilizer particles off paved surfaces and
back onto the lawn to keep it from going into the storm sewer.


Use porous landscaping materials, such as brick paving stones, sand or gravel beds and mulched areas, allowing spaces where water can infiltrate around and through the materials. Landscaping with Michigan native plants is economical because they are adapted to local soil and climate conditions and once established will require less trimming, watering and fertilizing. Native plants also naturally resist pests and diseases, eliminating the need for harmful pesticides. Native plants attract wildlife, such as butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds, and can discourage nuisance species, like Canada geese. Native plants have extensive root systems that promote infiltration of water and filter pollutants and sediment from runoff. Stay away from non-native, or invasive, plants. An invasive species can be an amphibian, plant, insect, fish or animal. They can harm the environment by growing or reproducing and spreading quickly taking over an area. Invasive plant species can change the diversity of species in your yard that are important feeding sources for native wildlife.
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Native plants require less water and fertilizer, filter out pollutants
and provide habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds.

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Phone | 734-768-2180

46036 Michigan Ave., Suite 126 | Canton, Michigan 48188