Sustainable Landscapes & Gardens

Transitioning to more environmentally friendly landscaping and pest control methods benefits fish and wildlife in and around local waterbodies. Designing and planting a landscape that minimizes the need for fertilizers and pesticides can go a long way in creating a beautiful and productive garden. Explore the links and tips below to discover the most effective and least toxic ways to maintain your landscape and manage pests, while ensuring you protect your local environment.

Integrated Pest Management 

Greatly reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides by employing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. Traditional pest control involves the routine application of pesticides. IPM focuses on pest prevention and uses pesticides only as needed, a more effective, environmentally sensitive approach. IPM programs take advantage of all appropriate pest management strategies, including the judicious use of pesticides. Click here to learn more about what IPM is and how to implement it in your garden.

California Friendly Landscaping

California friendly gardens and landscapes provide numerous benefits for the environment. Not only do California friendly landscapes result in reduced irrigation demand, but they also reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, restore soil health, and result in reduced maintenance needs. There is a wealth of information available on the web regarding California friendly landscaping. Check out some of the tips and links below or attend an upcoming local workshop

  • Check out this California Friendly Garden Guide;
  • Use native and drought tolerant plants in your garden to reduce the amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides needed;
  • Group plants into zones by amount of water needed, as well as soil type and sun exposure;
  • Use turf only where needed as a playing surface and water on a cycle to develop deep roots which will allow turf to stay green using 1/3 less water;
  • Choose lower water demanding variety when establishing turf such as UC Verde developed by researchers at UC Riverside;
  • Switch to smart weather-based controlled automatic zoned irrigation;
  • Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or micro spray systems to minimize runoff and overwatering;
  • Inspect irrigation systems regularly and fix leaks or broken sprinkler heads.


California Water Service currently offers rebates for installing rotating sprinkler nozzles and smart irrigation controllers to reduce water waste. Also, check SoCal Water$mart for information on water conservation rebates.

Healthy Soil 

  • Use compost to replace chemical fertilizers and build healthy soil and plant roots—purchase compost or make your own with backyard composting
  • Worm composting, also known as vermiculture, produces an amazing natural liquid fertilizer for plants; 
  • Contact your City’s trash hauler for information on discounted compost and worm bin programs;
  • Visit the County of L.A. Public Works for workshops that offer discounted compost and worm bins.


Best Management Practices for Using Pesticides and Fertilizers

If you must apply chemical pesticides or fertilizers, follow these best management practices to protect human health and the environment:

  • Always read the label and use and store pesticides and fertilizers only as directed;
  • Choose controlled or slow-release fertilizers that release nutrients gradually into the soil to minimize leaching and increase effectiveness;
  • Check the forecast and never apply pesticides or fertilizers if rain is predicted;
  • Rinse empty liquid pesticide or fertilizer containers and re-use rinse water as you would use the product. Do not allow rinse water to run off your property into storm drains; 
  • Do not over-apply pesticides or fertilizers. Use spot treatment where needed and avoid applying the chemical throughout your garden or lawn;
  • If liquid fertilizer or pesticide is spilled, place an absorbent material such as cat litter onto the spill and then use a dry method (such as sweeping) to collect and dispose of the material in the trash;  
  • Dispose of empty pesticide and fertilizer containers in the trash or recycling bin;
  • Take unused or partially used pesticide and fertilizer containers to a County of Los Angeles S.A.F.E. Collection Center (nearby locations are listed below) to be recycled. In addition, many local municipalities offer annual Household Hazardous Waste drop off events. 
    • Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant: 7660 West Imperial Highway (Gate B), Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
    • Harbor Area (San Pedro): 1400 North Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA 90731 


Check the South Bay Environmental Services Center calendar for more information on local events.