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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Grasscycling

  • 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.

    • Recycling A–Z

    • You can help

      We all play a role in keeping those waters clean in our everyday actions at home, work, school and play. Simple stewardship actions can help keep pollution from reaching our waterways. In Clark County, our stormwater drains go directly to stormwater facilities or the creeks themselves. It is important to realize what could get into a storm drain, besides rain water. Learn more to make sure your everyday actions are protecting our watershed. 

      Read more

      clean water help article

      Pick up pet waste

      Pet waste left on the ground can be washed into storm drains that lead directly to our streams and wetlands. This waste carries harmful bacteria, which can affect the health of aquatic wildlife, ourselves and our children.

      More resources

      Fix auto leaks

      If you see discoloration (like a rainbow) in the water running down the street during a rainstorm, there is pollution up stream. Check your vehicle for leaks and get it fixed. When your car leaks fluids, it is often a sign of a larger problem that can lead to major engine damage and possibly an expensive repair bill.

      Oil and other vehicle fluids from cars are toxic. Fix your leak so that vehicle fluids don’t end up in puddles where kids and pets like to play!

      Vehicles drip millions of quarts of motor oil into the Columbia River basin every year. Oil and other petroleum products can harm wildlife and habitat. When it rains, stormwater runoff carries pollution to creeks, streams and rivers.

      Only rain down the drain

      In your neighborhood, streets drain downhill to a storm drain. These drains are connected to pipes that carry the water to a local creek, stream or river. It is important to remember that we need to keep all contaminants and pollution OUT of the storm drains.

      Make sure you properly dispose of waste materials like paint or motor oil. Many of these items can be recycled or reused. Also keep soaps, herbicides and pesticides out of water by following directions on the product labels and not using on hard surfaces that can wash to the drain.

      Help educate your neighbors by volunteering to mark a message on your neighborhood’s drain “Protect Water – Only Rain in Drain.” Clark County loans out stencil kits for free! These are a great community service, school or scout project.

      Water wise farms

      If you are a small acreage or farm property owner, there are number of steps you can take to protect the health of your property and your watershed. Our partner at WSU Extension hosts workshops on topics to benefit your property, such as understand your soils, managing stormwater runoff and tips for healthy animals.

      Your landscape is part of the solution

      Everyone loves a lush lawn, beautiful plants and a healthy hard for you to call home. There are lots of great ideas to help you protect stormwater runoff from pollution while creating your dream landscape. Learn about Grasscycling, use of native plants, healthy plant care, gardening tips, and water conservation techniques.