Watershed-friendly Lawns and Gardens

Lake Whatcom

The City of Bellingham uses Lake Whatcom water to produce some of the cleanest drinking water in the nation. Unfortunately, the water quality of Lake Whatcom is threatened by many types of pollution, including excessive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. To help protect our drinking water, phosphorus-containing fertilizers and products are prohibited within the Lake Whatcom watershed.

The City of Bellingham has adopted specific guidelines for materials and practices for this area. 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 (ground up or powdered wood used for fuel) 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 at 360-778-7979.

Choose Safe Yard Products

As much as possible, use natural yard care solutions instead of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  Visit Grow Smart Grow Safe for simple steps to care for your yard naturally. If using a pesticide or fertilizer, choose a product that is safer for people, pets, and wildlife.  Grow Smart Grow Safe ranks the safety of many pesticide products.  You can search the database by product, brand name, or active ingredient and follow the active ingredient link to view scientific data used to rank the product.  Grow Smart Grow Safe also has information on fertilizers and soil amendments.  

The following garden stores in Bellingham participate in our Safe Yard Products program and can direct customers to pesticides with the highest safety ranking based on the Grow Smart Grow Safe database. 

Participating stores promoting safe yard products:

Ace Hardware                        356 36th St
DeWilde’s Nursery                3410 Northwest Ave
Garden Spot Nursery           900 Alabama St
Hardware Sales                     2034 James St
Hohl Feed & Seed                 1322 Railroad Ave
Kmart                                      1001 E Sunset Dr
My Garden Nursery              929 E Bakerview Rd
Whatcom Farmers Co-op    3125 Old Fairhaven Pkwy
                                                 3500 Meridian St

If your store would like to participate, please contact stormwater@cob.org or (360) 778-7800.


Mow periodically. Higher grass absorbs more water, reducing runoff. Use a mulch mower, if possible, to provide nutrients for your lawn and retain more water. 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.

Reduce Erosion​

Place wood chips or mulch over soil to reduce erosion. Use a barrier such as bricks or wood to contain soil in the garden.

Conserve Water

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