|Local impacts to water quality can include lawn & garden practices to proper disposal of waste and hazardous materials. Read below to learn some of the many ways you can directly improve water quality.|
Runoff can wash chemicals from yards, parking lots, and streets into our creeks and aquifers. Our aquifers recharge quickly, so there’s not much chance to filter pollutants. Do your part by using the least toxic method to deal with pests. These Grow Green Fact Sheets by The City of Austin Watershed Protection Dept. and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service are a great resource for proven treatment options. Visit their site for more information and browse more fact sheets HERE.
Browse below for basics on common pests and how to utilize the least toxic method available.
|Aphids||Basics: Ladybugs and other beneficial insects are a common non-toxic treatment for aphids. Be sure to monitor for these pests early and often on undersides of leaves and new growth to avoid damage and infestation.|
|Fire Ants||Basics: Ensure proper identification, other Texas ant species can be predators of fire ants. Quick treatment includes pouring boiling water, especially after rain events. Another option is to utilize beneficial nematodes.|
|Lawn Problems||Basics: Insect pests, or other stresses such as drought could be contributing to your lawn problems. Try using chemicals and fertilizers minimally, planting drought tolerant grasses, avoiding over-watering, and mowing high.|
|Mosquitoes||Basics: Remove standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites and manage potential habitat areas. Preventing bites with the least toxic method is also important, so opt for citronella candles, repellent on clothing and skin, using screening where possible, and avoiding peak dusk and dawn times.|
|Poison Ivy||Basics: Poison ivy can be identified by its three distinct leaflets with wavy edges and either shrub or vine-like growth. Avoid contact with skin and wear gloves, pants, and sleeves. Avoid toxic chemicals by pulling small plants by hand, then bagging or burying afterwards.|
Friends or Foes?
Browse below for trickier pests and how to utilize the least toxic method available. NOTE: Take caution with these before treating and check your identification, as a number of these pest varieties can be beneficial.
|Beetles||Basics: Note there are many beneficial beetle species, check your identification before treatment. Combat against these pest varieties by removing dead plant material, monitoring plants frequently, or treating with beneficial nematodes.|
|Caterpillars||Basics: Check ID. Note butterfly larvae can cause damage but are generally less harmful than other pest caterpillars. First treat pest species by hand removing, spray plants with water to dislodge, or introduce certain species of parasitic wasps.|
|Snails||Basics: Snails and slugs require moisture to survive so try reducing hiding places where they can be found. Treat pest species by hand removing and destroying the egg clusters and prevent with screening or copper stripping.|
|Stink Bugs||Basics: Check ID. Harmful species of stink bugs enjoy feeding on fruits/veggies like tomatoes, peas, and peaches. First destroy eggs and young as they are especially prone to damage. Prevent infestations with screening and controlling weeds.|
|Weeds||Basics: Weeds compete with desirable plants for resources and often harbor other pests. Watch for and hand remove regularly, and utilize weed barriers such as fabric or leaf layers.|
- Travis County AgriLife Extension
- Texas A&M – Aggie Horticulture or Texas A&M homepage
- Grow Green Nurseries
- Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council: Invasives Database
Choosing plants native to Central Texas for your landscape helps protect both water quality and water quantity. Because they are adapted to our specific conditions, Texas natives are often more drought-tolerant, require less maintenance, attract fewer pests, and act as habitat for local wildlife. When revitalizing your garden or landscape, consider using Central Texas native species that best align with the conditions of your space, as well as your preferred level of maintenance.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Native Plants and Plant ID with Mr. Smarty Plants
- A&M Agrilife & City of Austin: Searchable Natives Database
- City of Austin: Downloadable PDF Version
- Earth Kind Landscaping: Plant Selector
- Texas Department of Agriculture: Noxious and Invasive Plants
- PDF: TPWD Texas Wildscapes Gardening for Wildlife
Rain gardens can help reduce flooding and trap pollution before it reaches freshwater resources. With increased impervious cover, runoff speeds up and can transport more pollutants and can cause more erosion. Rain gardens work to capture that storm water, promote natural soil infiltration, filter pollutants, and lower risk of flooding.
- Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Raingardens
- City of Austin: Earth-wise Guide to Rain Gardens PDF
- Rain Garden Network: How to Build a Rain Garden in Ten Steps
Proper disposal of household waste, especially hazardous materials, is important for water quality protection of freshwater resources in Central Texas. Common household pollutants range from paint to prescriptions, pesticides to petroleum products, and everything in between. Harmful pollutants become especially mobile during rain events, entering surface and groundwater rapidly and with little to no filtration. To help protect Central Texas’ water resources, many local agencies accept household and hazardous waste. Check below for links to drop-off centers and their lists of accepted items.