Landscaping and garden maintenance activities can be major contributors to pollution. Soils, yard wastes, overwatering, and garden chemicals become part of the urban runoff mix that winds its way through streets, gutters, and storm drains before entering the Las Vegas Wash. Poorly functioning sprinklers and overwatering, for example, wastewater and increase the number of pollutants flowing into storm drains. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are washed off lawns and landscaped areas. These chemicals not only kill garden invaders, but they also harm useful insects and contaminate ground and surface water. Leaves, grass clippings, and tree trimmings that are swept or blown into the street and gutter are also Las Vegas Wash polluters. These wastes clog catch basins, increasing the risk of flooding on your street, and carry garden chemicals into the Las Vegas Wash. As they decompose, they also absorb oxygen aquatic life need to survive.
Do not overwater. Conserve water by using irrigation practices such as drip irrigation, soaker hoses or micro-spray systems. In communities with curbside yard waste recycling, place clippings and pruning waste in approved containers for pickup. Or, take clippings to a landfill that composts yard waste.
Do not blow or rake leaves into the street, gutter or storm drains. Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers. Do not over-fertilize and do not fertilize near streets, storm drains or other water bodies. Store pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals in a covered area to prevent runoff.
Protect stockpiles and materials from wind and rain by storing them under tarps or secured plastic sheeting. Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather. Prevent erosion by planting fast-growing annual and perennial grasses. These will shield and bind the soil.
The "chemicals-only" approach to pest control is only a temporary fix. A more common-sense approach is needed for a long-term solution. It is called Integrated Pest Management.
Plan your "IPM" strategy in this order:
1. Physical Controls
2. Biological Controls
3. Chemical Controls - Your Last Resort
Use these least-toxic products:
Garden Aphids and Mites - Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to a cup of water and spray. (Oil may harm vegetable plants in the cabbage family.)
Caterpillars - When caterpillars are eating, apply products containing Bacillus thuringiensis to leaves.
Ants - Place boric acid powder or hydramethylnon baits in problem areas, cracks and insect walkways. It is a mild poison, so be sure it is inaccessible to children and pets.
Roaches - Apply boric acid powder to cracks and entry points (see ants above). Place bay leaves on pantry shelves.
Use a pesticide that is specifically designed to control your pest. The insect should be listed on the label. Approximately 90% of the insects on your lawn and garden are not harmful.
Read labels! Use only as directed. In their zeal to control the problem, many gardeners use pesticides at over 20 times the rate that farmers do.
Household toxics-such as pesticides, cleansers and motor oil-can pollute the Las Vegas Wash and poison groundwater if disposed of in storm drains or gutters. Rinse empty pesticide containers and use rinse water as you would the product. Dispose of empty rinsed containers in the trash.
Take your unwanted pesticides to a household hazardous waste collection drop-off location. Republic Services of Southern Nevada provides household hazardous waste collections every other week.
Click Here to learn more about Republic Service's Household Hazardous Waste Program, drop-off locations and current disposal times under the "How Can We Help?" section of the Republic Services website.
Dumping toxics into the street, gutter or storm drain is illegal!