Lake Whatcom Guidelines
Because Lake Whatcom serves as our drinking water source, the City of Bellingham has adopted specific guidelines for materials and practices in the Lake Whatcom watershed. The City conducted testing of various landscaping products from multiple vendors to learn about phosphorus and fecal coliform bacteria content. In addition, the City has sought the advice of professionals in the landscape field regarding best available soil amendments. Based on this information, the City recommends the use of hog fuel mulch for the Lake Whatcom Watershed. This material provides for helpful soil microbes within a base material that is lower in soluble reactive phosphorus. Information about test results on this and other suitable materials is available from the City of Bellingham by calling the stormwater hotline.
Avoid Fertilizers and Pesticides
Avoid use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Phosphorus-containing fertilizers, mulches and soil amendments are prohibited within the Lake Whatcom watershed.
Mowing and Grass Clippings
- Mow periodically with the mower set 2″ or higher for most turf types. Higher grass absorbs more water, reducing runoff.
- Sweep lawn trimmings away from the street and sidewalk. Lawn trimmings left on pavement can wash into storm drains, clogging the stormwater system and adding excess nutrients to our waterways.
- Send your grass clippings to the Clean Green or Sanitary Service Collection yard waste program.
- Composting grass in not recommended because it is high in phosphorus.
Place hardwood chips, arborist chips, or hog-fuel mulch over soil to reduce erosion. Use a barrier such as bricks or wood to contain soil in the garden.
- Go Gold and let your grass go dormant during the summer.
- Use rain barrels (PDF) for watering lawns and gardens.
- Plant native plants (PDF) to reduce the need for water.
- Avoid runoff during watering.
- Explore more water conservation methods.
- WSU Extension: Gardening in Western Washington
- Native Plant Society: Native Plants for Western Washington
- King County Native Plant Guide