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P2 House - Front/Backyard

Pollution Prevention (P2) House


Revised On: April 30, 2024 - 8:20 a.m.

Yards provide a place for gatherings, gardening, grilling and playing with children and pets, so maintaining a safe and pollution-free space is important. The following tips and suggestions can convert your front or backyard into an environmentally friendly oasis.

Pest Control

There are many ways to control pests without resorting to harsh chemicals. Non-chemical methods can be just as effective and convenient as traditional methods. Traditional pest control eliminates harmful and helpful insects, including those that naturally rid your home of pests! The use of pesticides has been connected to the decline of honeybees and other pollinating populations, which are essential to a healthy environment. Not only do chemical pest control methods affect other helpful organisms like butterflies, hummingbirds, lizards, and small mammals, but they can also be harmful to our pets. Opting for natural pest control requires a little more effort, but it's low maintenance, especially when combined with xeriscaping. Cockroaches, ants, beetles, termites and scorpions can enter your home from your yard, even when you have taken necessary precautions. Consider Integrated Pest Management Techniques developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and develop simple habits | Learn More >

  • Prevent stagnant water; use Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, and Bacillus sphaericus (Bs) to prevent mosquitoes: Safe for people, pets, honeybees, and aquatic life
  • Avoid overwatering indoor and outdoor plants, as flies love root rot
  • Cover trash bins
  • Cover your food outdoors to prevent ants
  • Spray home entryways with spices: cayenne, paprika, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon
  • Citrus peels in the garden and in the kitchen
  • Old coffee grounds (also great for soil)
  • Boric acid
  • Add bird feeders and nesting boxes to encourage pest-eating birds
  •  Remember to Starve them Out, Dry them Out, and Keep them Out!
  • Grow native plants that naturally repel problematic insects:
    • Lavender: flies, mosquitoes, fleas
    • Basil: mosquitoes
    • Mint: mice, flies, ants, aphids, fleas, mosquitos
    • Marigold: aphids and mosquitoes
    • Eucalyptus: flies, mosquitoes, ants, mites, aphids
    • Lemongrass (Citronella): mosquitoes, lice, fleas
    • Rosemary: Mosquitoes, garden pests
    • Deter neighborhood cats using your garden as a litter box by sprinkling coffee grounds and citrus peels (doubles as fertilizer)

Download the University of Arizona’s guide titled “How to Bug Proof Your Home” for more ideas | View >

Air Quality

Ozone pollution is a concern in Arizona during the warmer months, April through September. According to the Maricopa County Air Quality Department website “Clean Air Make More,” top air pollution offenders are cars, trucks, ATVs, leaf blowers, and lawn and garden equipment. To reduce pollution, consider the Maricopa County "Commit to One Day" challenge and try these tips:

  • Avoid using leaf blowers during hotter months and use a rake instead.
  • Never use gas-powered equipment, such as leaf blowers or mowers, during high-pollution warnings.
  • Avoid barbequing during pollution warnings and consider using natural gas or propane.
  • Invest in trees, shrubs and plants to beautify your yard while also helping purify the air and providing shade.
  • Spray fewer toxic or non-toxic pesticides in the early or later hours to avoid releasing chemicals in the hot sun.
  • Perform regular vehicle maintenance and test for emissions.

Xeriscape/Water-efficient Landscaping

Arizona is a versatile state that's ecologically diverse. From the woodland and shrubland hills to the canyonlands, volcanic plateaus, forested mountains, and glaciated peaks, this state is truly unique. Most Arizonians reside in the Sonoran desert in the southern third of the state. Growing conditions for this region include only 7 to 10 inches of rainfall annually. Intense heat, dry wind, and alkaline soil are commonplace in the valley. Despite these extreme conditions, the Sonoran desert is teeming with life and is generally in ecological balance. This ecosystem is fragile, though, and all biotic and abiotic factors rely on each other. Humans have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment by conserving resources, especially water.

Landscaping that doesn’t support our biological flora and fauna demands excessive inputs like water, energy, herbicides, pesticides, and more. In Arizona’s valley, natural turf landscapes account for 70% of outdoor water usage. Conserving water resources and using them efficiently is crucial to sustaining our state’s water supply. Reduce your water consumption and water bill with Xeriscaping instead! Xeriscape is a landscape style that requires little to no maintenance or irrigation that supports arid climates. By planting native vegetation, you will spend less time and money maintaining your yard, invite local flora and fauna, and help us reduce the demand for water resources! 

Drought-Tolerant and Native Species

Continuous, interrupted or even seasonal drought can be detrimental to the health of vegetation that is not designed to survive extended periods of time without water. However, there are many drought-tolerant and/or native plant species that can withstand drought and even thrive in an arid environment | Learn More >

Xeric land cover can reduce average evapotranspiration levels by up to 40 percent. Incorporating this type of landscape design reduces the amount of maintenance and upkeep needed because it reduces human dependency.

Xeriscape design is a great way to showcase the beautiful and diverse plants and vegetation that exist in Arizona and share that vibrancy while simultaneously saving on water and maintenance expenses | Learn More >

Landscape Waste Reduction and Vegetative Buffers

Both natural and human-built landscapes can produce waste. It is important to identify areas where waste can be reduced at the source and to find opportunities to recycle in circumstances where waste is unavoidable. Grass clippings, for example, can be left on the ground and utilized as a natural fertilizer rather than being bagged and shipped elsewhere. Choosing low-maintenance plants that can grow to mature size within the allotted space will avoid unnecessary shearing and redundancy in maintaining the landscape. Vegetative buffers (bioswales) act as barriers between potentially harmful externalities and the protected landscape. These buffers can lessen the severity of runoff and erosion by capturing and filtering the stormwater | Learn More >