Keep it in the yard

Everyone loves water. Clean water. And we want to protect it.  As anglers and boaters, we recognize the importance of water quality and preservation.  We are careful with fuel and clean our boats to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species.  We follow fishing regulations and pick up litter, leaving the lake shore cleaner than when we found it.  And our licenses and boat registrations are up-to-date which help fund  other conservation operations.

Most of these conservation practices occur while on the water.  But what about the down time between trips to the lake? Perhaps improved water quality can start right in your own back yard.

Consider that most yards are essentially a part of your neighborhood watershed. When the lawn has reached saturation point from irrigation or a rain event, water then needs to go somewhere, hopefully not in your basement. That excess water racing down toward the curb and on into the street storm drain can carry fertilizers, pesticides, and sediments and find their way into your favorite fishing hole.

Beyond scolding the dogs for not considering erosion as they dig up the marigolds, what can be done?

“Buffer strips” are vegetative zones near water that slow runoff and act as a filter to improve the water quality.  To some extent, even the average backyard lawn can begin acting as a buffer, by increasing the efficiency of irrigation and chemicals applied. Better water quality means better fishing and boating.

Another way to start helping your local waterway is not to bag lawn clippings. Horticulturalists with the University of Missouri point out that “25 percent of your lawn’s total fertilizer needs are supplied by clippings left on the lawn” in an article, “Don’t Bag It Lawn Care.”

Additionally, Dr. Carl Whitcomb (Dad) says that if you set the deck of the mower to cut grass a little higher, you will encourage deeper roots.  Because grasses already have a fibrous root system, with deeper soil penetration grass will have access to more soil moisture and require less irrigation, and thus there will be less of a water demand on your local reservoir.

By increasing the efficiency of landscape maintenance practices, what happens in my backyard stays in my backyard. And my fishing and boating waterways are cleaner because of it.
Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.