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Easy ways to get started

It’s not necessary to completely change your existing landscape to make it more environmentally friendly. Consider easing into River-Friendly Landscaping, one practice at a time. The suggestions below are relatively easy and inexpensive to do and are a great way to get started

Check your irrigation system

Grasscycle when mowing lawns

  • Grasscycling allows grass clippings and their nutrients to be recycled into the lawn and soil, reducing the need for fertilizers. In addition, there is less waste sent to the landfill.
  • Replace the standard blade on your lawn mower with a mulching blade that cuts clippings into smaller pieces that break down more readily.
  • Remove the bag (so the clippings stay on the lawn) and mow as usual.

Avoid using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers

  • Choose organic, slow release fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers damage soil health and stimulate excessive plant growth that is vulnerable to pest insects.
  • Don’t use broad spectrum pesticides. They can can create pest problems by eliminating beneficial insects.
  • Add some attractive flowering plants to your garden that support populations of beneficial insects that are known to control pest species. Learn more—Growing a Healthy Garden.
  • Be especially aware of imminent rain and irrigation flows that could wash fertilizers and pesticides down the storm drain.

Use mulch in flower, vegetable, and shrub beds

  • Mulch is a covering of organic material, which can prevent water loss, keep weeds down, and decompose to make the soil healthy.
  • Use mulch materials such as shredded bark, ground up tree trimmings, and fallen leaves.
  • Apply mulch three inches or more deep. Keep mulch away from the base of trees and shrubs to reduce damage from disease and pests.

Use compost to improve soil health and fertility

  • Reduces fertilizer needs
  • Improves water use efficiency
  • Incorporate when planting or apply to shrubs and lawns

The Seven Principles of
River-Friendly Landscaping

Click on any section to learn more

Is your landscape River-Friendly?
Use our benefits calculator to find out.

Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might find of interest:

Contest Winner

RFL Inspiration Garden

RFL Examples

Rain Gardens

Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost

Get Mulching

Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding Frenzy Really Needed?

Plant Trees, Save Energy!

Right Plant, Right Place!

Plant Selection

Plant Communities

Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…

Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?

Rethink Your Lawn

Pests Bugging You?

River-Friendly Pest Control

Managing Common Pests

Good Bugs

Interview about RFL (MP3)

Choose California natives first

Don't Blow It!

Reducing Outdoor Asthma Triggers


Watch the YouTube video
"Slow the Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.