Yard Maintenance

Yard Maintenance, Water Quality And You

No matter where you live you’re part of a watershed. In the San Leandro Creek watershed all water flows into San Leandro Creek, and eventually to San Francisco Bay. Rain falling on a watershed flows as surface runoff to rivers and streams, or filters down through soils to flow into the groundwater aquifers. Both surface and groundwater flows can pick up pollutants and carry them to downstream fisheries.

Pollution from many indirect sources is called Non-point source Pollution. Common examples of Non-point Pollution include; eroding soils, oil, paints, solvents, anti-freeze and pesticide spills along our roads or into our storm drains. Pollution spills and release which flow into our storm drains are of most concern because these releases can flow untreated directly into San Leandro Creek. Therefore, by being aware of these damaging pollutants and by properly maintaining our gardens and yards we can protect the water quality and the health of San Leandro Creek.

The following Yard Maintenance and Gardening tips will help protect the water quality of San Leandro Creek while maintaining the beauty of your yard and garden.

Proper gardening techniques can also protect the soil, help retain rainfall, and protect San Leandro Creek’s water quality.Plant your vegetable garden and lawns on level areas away from the creek banks. Keep garden debris such as grass clipping, leaves, and pruning debris out of the creek and off its banks. Garden debris in the creek reduce the available oxygen content for aquatic life. In addition, garden fertilizers should not be allowed to migrate into San Leandro Creek because they also will increase algae growth and reduce the available oxygen for aquatic life.

Garden debris composts easily for reliable soil amendment or can be recycled curbside.

Appropriate landscaping can reduce water runoff and erosion, lessen the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and reduce overall water consumption.Preserve the existing creek side vegetation. Creek vegetation provides shelter for fish and wildlife. Overhanging trees offer shade which keeps the water temperatures cool. Cooler temperatures are good for fish and deter unsightly algae growth.

Consider native riparian trees and shrubs when landscaping creek slopes. Native plants require less water, fertilizers, and are better adapted to California’s environment. Creek side native plants stabilize creek banks, and protect slopes from erosion.

Never dump oil, antifreeze, paint, solvents or pesticides into the soil or storm drains. Dumping these wastes is both illegal and dangerous (Call the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health at (510) 567-6700 to report pollution and illegal dumping incidents). Many of these wastes are recyclable (Call Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste (510) 670-6460).

Use garden and lawn chemicals sparingly and never when it is windy or raining. Lawn chemicals can be carried by the wind or rain into San Leandro Creek. Read pesticide labels carefully. Pesticides and herbicides are toxic to people, pets wildlife and fish. A properly chosen ornamental plant or especially a California native plant can be more pest resistant and require less chemicals and fertilizers to survive. 

  • Encourage beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantises, lacewings, and ground beetles.
  • Use less toxic pesticides such as soap and water solutions or insecticide oils before using more costly and toxic insecticides.
  • Consult with you local nurseryman or Master Gardener (Master Gardener Program (510) 670-5202).
You can help preserve water quality in San Leandro Creek and San Francisco Bay by recognizing damaging yard and garden practices. The protection of San Leandro Creek requires the combined efforts of us all.

This brochure was prepared by the Friends of San Leandro Creek with funds from a Community Stewardship Grant provided by the Alameda County-Wide Clean Water Program.