Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can help control pesky weeds and insects, but every pesticide (including organic) has some level of toxicity to non-targeted, beneficial organisms, such as honey bees, earthworms, aquatic bugs, fish and people.
Chemicals sprayed on a windy day can drift onto neighboring property or into a creek. Pesticides applied before it rains can wash into a storm drain that connects to a local waterway. Local studies have shown that when pesticides enter the waterway, they create a toxic environment for aquatic organisms. Pesticides in the water can decrease the quality and availability of water for drinking, swimming, and fishing. These impacts are often the result of the overuse and misapplication of pesticides. When used sparingly, and according to the product label, you can minimize the adverse effects caused by pesticides.
You Can Help Prevent Water Pollution and Maintain A Healthy Environment
Grow vegetation wisely
- Plant native shrubs, flowers, and trees that thrive with the soil conditions, rainfall, and climate in your area, with little-to-no chemical additions.
- Mow your lawn at the tallest height suitable for the variety of grass planted because the roots of your lawn grow deeper as the grass grows taller. During a drought, deeper roots can better reach water.
- Aerate your lawn to create space for beneficial organisms to enhance the soil and reduce compaction to boost root growth and increase the capacity of the soil to hold water.
Know your pest
- Research the insect or weed and find out the best controls for your situation. For example, some weeds spread further when cut. Timing—when the control is applied—may be important for specific pests.
- Look for information from OSU Extension Service, Clackamas Soil & Water Conservation District, or Metro.
Consider using natural alternatives to manage pests and weeds
- Use horticultural oil sprays or diluted liquid soaps.
- Use botanical insecticides, which include naturally occurring plant extracts.
- Physically remove weeds by digging or pulling, unless dealing with a weed that re-grows from fragments.
- Spray vinegar to kill targeted weeds.
- Lure yellow jackets into narrow-necked bottles with juice or sugar water.
If you must use a pesticide, use the least toxic and...
- Identify the pest and use a target-specific pesticide.
- Carefully read the label and follow the instructions, especially weather conditions: don’t apply when windy or rainy.
- Only apply pesticides where needed and clean up any spills.
- Call a certified professional pesticide applicator.
Dispose of unwanted/unused pesticides by taking them to a Metro hazardous waste facility. Never on the ground, in the trash, or down a drain.