Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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Bat house

  • Backyard

     

    Bat House

    Bats eat thousands of insects every night—including pesky mosquitoes. Encourage these natural insect controllers to work around your house by placing a bat box in your yard.

    Birdfeeder

    Wildlife in your own backyard? Get out of town! The city isn’t that far away from nature. Birds, mammals, bugs, and all sorts of critters all come to our backyards every day. Have you ever thought of starting a backyard beehive? What about growing bird and bug friendly plants? Make your home one for the critters, too.

    Bee Hive/Pollinators

    We all need pollinators to survive. One out of every three bites of food that you eat is compliments of a pollinator. Look into having Mason Bees in your yard. Plant a pollinator garden. If you are really ambitious, get a hive of honey bees. Nothing tastes better than honey from your own yard.

    Clothesline

    Here’s an energy efficient idea that goes back generations. Hang those clothes to dry and skip the clothes dryer completely.

    Lawnmower

    It’s a lawn and winding road when it comes to mowing. All the gas mowers in the United States may contritube up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, while spilling countless gallons of gasoline. Consider, if you’re willing, an energy-efficient or electric lawn mower, or even a push mower.

    As for that darned lawn: there are some easy ways to mow it green.

    • Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass leaf’s surface when you mow — the longer grass promotes deeper roots and inhibits weeds, as there is more leaf surface to take in sunlight and shade the soil.
    • Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to “grasscycle,” which is a free, natural supply of fertilizer.
    • Also make sure that your mower’s blades are sharp and balanced. Good blades will reduce mower vibrations, lengthen mower life, and reduce fueld consumption by as much as 20 percent. The grass benefits, too, when it is cleanly cut. The torn leaf ends leftover from dull blades are easy gateways for disease.

    Check out our Grasscycling Workshop for more information!

    Compost

    Composting is a great way to fight our ever-growing landfills, while remaking our organic waste into nutrient-rich lawn and garden food. It starts with an equal mix of green materials (like grass or other plants) and brown materials (like autumn leaves or wood chips). Make sure your materials aren’t too big—use bite-sized pieces, which are more easily compostable. When your materials are all gathered, your pile (for optimal conditions) should add up to about one cubic yard, or 3 by 3 by 3 feet. Your pile should be moist, but not dripping wet throughout the compost journey—think of a wrung-out sponge as you go along. Turn your pile every three days and watch the rot! Eventually, with a careful eye, you’ll have a wonderful, earthy-smelling, nutrient loaded compost!

    Dog Poop

    Number one: it’s stinky. Number two: you don’t want to step in it. Number three: rain water carries the poop into the local waterways, infecting them with dangerous pathogens and filling them with unnecessary nutrients. Around 20% of all fecal coliform bacteria in waterways comes directly from dog poop. So what can you do? Scoop the poop, bag it, and put it in the garbage! Here are some more tips for dealing with dog waste.

    Weeds

    Did a lone weed sprout up in your yard? Don’t hassle with getting out the spray—get a little exercise by bending over and pulling that weed right out. It’s very satisfying.

    Pets

    Take good care of your pets. Don’t use chemicals on the yard that they can get into and become sick.

    Garden

    A garden can provide so much to your home! By planting edibles, you have (mostly) instant food at your door. By planting native plants, you have beautiful and natural additions to your yard. You can attract bugs and bees, birds and mammals, all by having a garden! Nature doesn’t have to be so far away anymore.

    Sprinkler

    One of the biggest problems with many lawns is overwatering. By watering too heavily or too frequently, you leach nutrients from the soil and train the roots to keep near the surface, making the lawn less able to sustain itself through drought.

    Water 1 to 1½ inches every week (you can check this by placing tuna cans under the sprinklers arc). Be sure to water out of the sun—during morning or evening—to avoid water evaporation. If you see water runoff, stop! You’re wasting water! Think about a core aeration and topdressing to cure your runoff woes; and in the meantime, water slowly and carefully, stopping when the runoff begins, and then starting once all the water has infiltrated.

    Fertilizer and Pesticide

    Weed and feed-type products apply unnecessary amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to your entire lawn. In reality, only parts of your lawn may need fertilizer and there is no need to broadcast chemicals over your entire lawn to kill a handful of weeds. Consider spot-applying your pesticides or, better yet, hand pull weeds when the number is reasonable. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

    Choose organic fertilizers and be careful to not apply before heavy irrigation or a rainstorm, as the fertilizer will wash away into the storm drains, which then enter our local waterways. And why pay good money for fertilizer that is washing down the street?

    The bottom line is that weeds and unsatisfactory grass are better handled through renovation than fertilizers and pesticides. Once a year, do a core aeration on your lawn—this will improve water infiltration, drainage, and the oxygen content of the soil. Afterward, topdress with a layer of compost. Finally, overseed with grass seed and watch your lawn go!

    Your lawn is an ecosystem, too. By working with nature instead of against it, you can have a healthy, beautiful lawn from the soil up.

    • Bat House

      Bats eat thousands of insects every night—including pesky mosquitoes. Encourage these natural insect controllers to work around your house by placing a bat box in your yard.

    • Birdfeeder

      Wildlife in your own backyard? Get out of town! The city isn’t that far away from nature. Birds, mammals, bugs, and all sorts of critters all come to our backyards every day. Have you ever thought of starting a backyard beehive? What about growing bird and bug friendly plants? Make your home one for the critters, too.

    • Bee Hive/Pollinators

      We all need pollinators to survive. One out of every three bites of food that you eat is compliments of a pollinator. Look into having Mason Bees in your yard. Plant a pollinator garden. If you are really ambitious, get a hive of honey bees. Nothing tastes better than honey from your own yard.

    • Clothesline

      Here’s an energy efficient idea that goes back generations. Hang those clothes to dry and skip the clothes dryer completely.

    • Lawnmower

      It’s a lawn and winding road when it comes to mowing. All the gas mowers in the United States may contritube up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, while spilling countless gallons of gasoline. Consider, if you’re willing, an energy-efficient or electric lawn mower, or even a push mower.

      As for that darned lawn: there are some easy ways to mow it green.

      • Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass leaf’s surface when you mow — the longer grass promotes deeper roots and inhibits weeds, as there is more leaf surface to take in sunlight and shade the soil.
      • Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to “grasscycle,” which is a free, natural supply of fertilizer.
      • Also make sure that your mower’s blades are sharp and balanced. Good blades will reduce mower vibrations, lengthen mower life, and reduce fueld consumption by as much as 20 percent. The grass benefits, too, when it is cleanly cut. The torn leaf ends leftover from dull blades are easy gateways for disease.

      Check out our Grasscycling Workshop for more information!

    • Compost

      Composting is a great way to fight our ever-growing landfills, while remaking our organic waste into nutrient-rich lawn and garden food. It starts with an equal mix of green materials (like grass or other plants) and brown materials (like autumn leaves or wood chips). Make sure your materials aren’t too big—use bite-sized pieces, which are more easily compostable. When your materials are all gathered, your pile (for optimal conditions) should add up to about one cubic yard, or 3 by 3 by 3 feet. Your pile should be moist, but not dripping wet throughout the compost journey—think of a wrung-out sponge as you go along. Turn your pile every three days and watch the rot! Eventually, with a careful eye, you’ll have a wonderful, earthy-smelling, nutrient loaded compost!

    • Dog Poop

      Number one: it’s stinky. Number two: you don’t want to step in it. Number three: rain water carries the poop into the local waterways, infecting them with dangerous pathogens and filling them with unnecessary nutrients. Around 20% of all fecal coliform bacteria in waterways comes directly from dog poop. So what can you do? Scoop the poop, bag it, and put it in the garbage! Here are some more tips for dealing with dog waste.

    • Weeds

      Did a lone weed sprout up in your yard? Don’t hassle with getting out the spray—get a little exercise by bending over and pulling that weed right out. It’s very satisfying.

    • Pets

      Take good care of your pets. Don’t use chemicals on the yard that they can get into and become sick.

    • Garden

      A garden can provide so much to your home! By planting edibles, you have (mostly) instant food at your door. By planting native plants, you have beautiful and natural additions to your yard. You can attract bugs and bees, birds and mammals, all by having a garden! Nature doesn’t have to be so far away anymore.

    • Sprinkler

      One of the biggest problems with many lawns is overwatering. By watering too heavily or too frequently, you leach nutrients from the soil and train the roots to keep near the surface, making the lawn less able to sustain itself through drought.

      Water 1 to 1½ inches every week (you can check this by placing tuna cans under the sprinklers arc). Be sure to water out of the sun—during morning or evening—to avoid water evaporation. If you see water runoff, stop! You’re wasting water! Think about a core aeration and topdressing to cure your runoff woes; and in the meantime, water slowly and carefully, stopping when the runoff begins, and then starting once all the water has infiltrated.

    • Fertilizer and Pesticide

      Weed and feed-type products apply unnecessary amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to your entire lawn. In reality, only parts of your lawn may need fertilizer and there is no need to broadcast chemicals over your entire lawn to kill a handful of weeds. Consider spot-applying your pesticides or, better yet, hand pull weeds when the number is reasonable. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

      Choose organic fertilizers and be careful to not apply before heavy irrigation or a rainstorm, as the fertilizer will wash away into the storm drains, which then enter our local waterways. And why pay good money for fertilizer that is washing down the street?

      The bottom line is that weeds and unsatisfactory grass are better handled through renovation than fertilizers and pesticides. Once a year, do a core aeration on your lawn—this will improve water infiltration, drainage, and the oxygen content of the soil. Afterward, topdress with a layer of compost. Finally, overseed with grass seed and watch your lawn go!

      Your lawn is an ecosystem, too. By working with nature instead of against it, you can have a healthy, beautiful lawn from the soil up.

    • Inviting Habitat

      We want wildlife in our backyards because, as was said in Episode 9 of Yard Talk, “A beautiful backyard without wildlife is like a stage without actors”.

      By creating good habitat, we become good stewards of the land and we help care for the ecosystem of which we are part. With a little observation, research, patience and tolerance we can woo wildlife into our residential landscapes.

      Read more

      nbb attracting beneficials article

      This is what wildlife needs:

      Food

      We mostly think of birds when we consider feeding wildlife. Bird feeders are a great way to supply mostly seeds for birds; be sure to keep feeders clean. But many birds eat insects, and many more birds feed their young almost exclusively insects. See a list of insects birds eat at How to Attract Bug-eating Birds. Other critters also eat insects, including other insects. The best way to attract insects to your yard is to have native plants. Interestingly, very many insects larval stage can only consume one or a handful of very specific plants. And quite often, those plants must be natives. Adding even a few native plants to your landscape can help wildlife, specifically birds and insects, feel at home.

      Water

      Of course, birds, pollinators and other critters are used to natural water sources. But because most of us in residential situations don’t have natural water on-site, we need to go to plan B. Ponds are great, but expensive and can require a lot of maintenance. Moving water is very attractive to many birds so waterfall features are desirable. But again, they can be expensive to install and maintain. Birdbaths and smaller recirculating water features can be just the ticket. But whatever you choose, your water feature should have at least one side or area that is a very gently sloping so that very small birds and insects have a way to get out if they get in over their head. Be sure to keep any water features clean.

      Shelter

      Critters need safety from predators, a place to perch, and a place to raise young. Most people think of birdhouses as shelter. But wildlife is more than just birds, and birds, insects and other types of wildlife will happily take up residence in brush piles, tree snags, and even rock piles.

      Space

      All living things need space to thrive. Humans encroach more and more into areas that were the sole domain of wildlife. We can compensate just a little bit by reducing the size of our lawns and utilizing some native plants in our residential landscapes.

      Learn more

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