OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

You are here

Groundwater Friendly Gardening

  • Apply fertilizer according to the plant's needs. Fertilizer in excess of plant uptake can pollute the groundwater and it is a waste of money. DO NOT fertilize in the winter because plants aren't growing and the heavy rains transport the nitrogen below the rooting zone before spring growth begins.
  • Use a mulching lawn mower instead of removing clippings.
  • Install backflow devices to prevent the siphoning of irrigation water back down the well or into your drinking water supply.
  • DO NOT use spray devices that attach to the end of the hose for fertilizer or pesticides because of backflow risk.
  • DO NOT store any chemicals in the pump house. Accidental spills can reach the groundwater directly via the well hole.
  • Refuel all motorized equipment (mowers, tillers, chain saws, etc.) on a hard surface at least 100 feet away from the well. Collect all petroleum products from oil changes and winter drainage of fuel tanks. Check with your local garbage company on proper disposal methods.
  • Take special care when using FRESH MANURE in your garden because it contains fecal coliform bacteria and nitrogen. Time fresh manure applications like fertilizer - use when the plants are growing and able to take up the nitrogen. If you are storing manure for spring use, cover the piles to prevent leaching by winter rains. You can spread fresh manure in the fall if you are adding uncomposted organic matter, such as shredded leaves or sawdust, because the process of breaking down the organic matter takes up the nitrogen. Prevent manure contaminated surface runoff from reaching your well area.
  • Use water conservation practices around your homestead. Install low-flow irrigation and/or drought tolerant plants. Let your lawn go dormant (brown) in the hottest part of the summer; it will green up when the fall rains return.
  • Consider the potential impacts on groundwater and surface water runoff when building any structures or initiating new practices on your homestead.