Chemical-free lawns aren’t just healthier for rivers and streams but also for pets and children. Consider organic fertilizing, aerating and over seeding with site-appropriate mixes. Or save time and money with an ecolawn, naturescaping or other lawn alternatives.


Say “no” to weed and feed and fast release synthetic fertilizers. Leaving your clippings on the lawn may provide all the fertilizer you need for a healthy lawn. Prevent fertilizer runoff by only adding a slow release fertilizer, if needed, in the fall.


Water once a week, about an inch (includes rainfall), and only in the early morning or at night to avoid excessive evaporation. Not watering the sidewalk, paths or driveway (a) saves water and (b) reduces runoff. More watering tips here.


Don’t rake. Grass clippings release nutrients back into the lawn, cut your fertilizer needs in half, hold moisture and save time. More about grasscycling here.


Auto Care

Certified mechanics can minimize your car’s impact with regular maintenance and recycling or disposing of waste properly. Of course, driving less is even better by carpooling, riding TriMet, or C-Tran, or biking (Portland) (Vancouver).


Stop or contain leaks (stormwater runoff containing just a pint of oil can create a slick larger than a football field). If you change your own oil, store it in gallon jugs and put it out at the curb with the recycling. Since not everyone has the option for curbside collection, there are also places to take your used oil (Portland/Metro) (Clark County).


The soap and grime that washes away is hard on our waterways. Consider certified carwashes or even washing your car on the lawn with biodegradable soap (reducing contaminants and watering your lawn at the same time). And contrary to popular belief, it won't hurt your lawn.



Think organic and chemical free. Native plants and other planting strategies minimize watering needs and manage pests. For persistent insect problems, use non-toxic insecticides.


Next time you're wondering what to do with your yard waste, do yourself a favor and get one of these bins from Metro. Composting (Portland/Metro) (Clark County) means you'll cut down on garbage and make your lawn and garden happy with nutrient-rich soil, and therefore use less fertilizer that could wash away into rivers and streams.

Plant Native

Native plants resist pests, insects and are drought tolerant because they’re adapted to our area. Using less insecticide, fertilizer and watering means less of that stuff ends up in our waterways. Learn more about plant options for your native garden here and here.

Urban Trees

Tree canopies slow rainfall, reduce runoff and watering needs, while their roots enhance water quality and reduce erosion. Plus we all know they improve our air.



Harsh chemicals are more than harsh, they’re toxic. Rid your home of the worst ones and learn more about safer and often cheaper solutions.


Pick up after your pets and toss it in the can. Bacteria from pet poo is measurable and harmful to our rivers. Click here to see what the fuss is about. Also remember to keep dogs leashed in natural areas unless otherwise posted to reduce impact to wildlife, plants and stream banks.

Manage Stormwater

Learn about ways to manage stormwater on your property. Disconnect your downspouts, build and install a rain barrel, or create a rain garden. This will keep fewer pollutants from washing into our rivers and streams and, in some areas, can also earn you a discount on fees.


Get Involved

Keep nature in your neighborhood: help restore habitats, report illegal dumping, mark storm drains or read up on regional polices and endangered aquatic species. For info specific to your region click on one of the links below.



View Metro's other natural gardening instructional videos.

Click Play to view Clean Rivers and Streams TV commercial.
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About Us

About Us

Water, whether from rain or hose, carries pollutants to our rivers and streams through storm drains, ditches and more direct means. The Regional Coalition for Clean Rivers and Streams, a partnership of eight public agencies in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, is dedicated to educating the public about the impact of stormwater runoff pollution on the health of our rivers and streams. We can do a lot at home to reduce our impact.



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