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Programs and Services: Backyard Conservation

Landscaping for Clean Water
Native Prairie Restoration Program
Native Shoreline Stabilization
Rain Barrels
Rain Gardens and Native Gardens
Rainwater Harvesting
Soil Stabilization

Whether you have a large country lot, a suburban yard, or a tiny plot in the city, you can help protect the environment and add beauty and interest to your surroundings. Backyard conservation refers to a number of different practices you can establish on your property. The practices include native vegetation plantings, buffer strips, wetland restoration, composting, nutrient management, chemical use reduction, erosion control, and water quality protection.

Wildlife Habitat

Planting trees in your yard will improve nesting habitat for birds and save you money on heating and cooling your home if placed strategically. Planting native trees, shrubs, grasses, and plants look great and also provides food for birds, butterflies, mammals, and many other critters. Water is an effective way to draw wildlife to your backyard. A small pond can be a scenic addition that provides habitat to frogs, turtles, birds, fish, and aquatic plants.

Water Quality

In Minnesota, many backyards border lakes, streams and wetlands. It is important to keep natural buffers around these areas to protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Backyard conservation techniques located adjacent to natural communities will extend areas that wildlife can inhabit. Planting native grasses and plants will increase the rooting depth which may help curb erosion problems on rivers and streams. Controlling erosion and reducing rainwater runoff will decrease the amount of nutrients and sediment entering our lakes and rivers. Keeping leaves and clippings off of pavement will also reduce nutrients entering stormsewers that route rainwater directly to lakes or streams.

Soil Quality

Composting can be done in a small space with little time involved. Composting leaves, plants, and selected domestic wastes is a great way to enhance soil productivity and reduce refuse costs. When the compost is ready, it can be used in flower or vegetable gardens. Mulching leaves or grass clippings into the soil is another alternative to bagging. Soil testing is an essential step to nutrient management. Apply only correct amount of nutrients needed to the soil. If fertilizers are needed, slow-release nitrogen fertilizers should be utilized.


Backyard Wildlife Habitat (National Wildlife Federation)
Backyard Conservation (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
Backyard Awareness (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)