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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Place wood chips or 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: Organic Gardening
- Native Plant Society: Native Plants for Western Washington
- King County Native Plant Guide