Lake Whatcom-friendly Lawns and Gardens

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.
  • Best choices for disposal of grass clippings (composting grass at home is not recommended because it is high in phosphorus):
    • Use FoodPlus! curbside service from Sanitary Service Company for yard waste, food scraps, and more. (360) 734-3490,
    • Take it to RDS Recycling and Disposal Services at 4916 Labounty Dr., Ferndale ,WA 98248. (360) 384-8011,
    • Take it to Green Earth Technology at 774 Meadowlark Dr., Lynden, WA 98264. (360) 354-4936,

Reduce Erosion

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.

Conserve Water

More Information