Keep Yard Waste Out of the Marine Ecosystem


With springtime rain and moderate temperatures, vegetation on our islands has been growing like crazy. This includes not only our lawns and gardens but weeds as well.

For those who live along the shoreline, the temptation may be to throw yard debris over the bluff, or onto the beach, letting nature carry it away. After all, it will decompose, right? Besides being illegal and subject to a fine, doing so can cause multiple problems to the marine environment. Any fertilizers or herbicides will make it to the shoreline along with the grass clippings, killing fragile marine life. Even if you use no chemicals, excess nitrogen created by decomposition can raise temperatures and deplete oxygen resulting in a threat to marine life. Grass clippings or waste can smother clam beds or kill forage fish eggs located on the upper beach. Any vegetation dumped onto your bluff can smother native plants that provide stability, and thus increase the chance of slides.

What are your options in disposing of yard and lawn debris?

  • Create a compost pile or purchase or build a compost bin; then use the resulting compost on your flower beds or garden.
  • Take it to Coupeville Solid Waste Complex or Camano Transfer Station.
  • Additionally,
    • Camano residents can get it picked up curbside by Waste Management or haul their yard debris to Lenz in Stanwood.
    • Oak Harbor residents can contact the city about curbside yard waste pick-up, in addition to garbage and recycling services.
    • Langley residents can purchase yard waste tickets in advance at City Hall to dispose of yard waste and storm debris at the Treatment Facility on Coles Road.
    • All Whidbey Topsoil in Freeland accepts stumps and branches. All of these disposal locations charge a fee for disposal.

Noxious weeds can be disposed of for free at your Island County Solid Waste Transfer Station. You must make certain your load is limited to the noxious weeds.

If you need help identifying noxious weeds, see the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board website, or contact Island County’s Noxious Weed Coordinator, Seth Luginbill who can answer your questions. Additional information on noxious weeds control and disposal can be found here and in this article on identifying and controlling the top 10 noxious weeds.

Whidbey Conservation District offers an excellent guide to Natural Yard Care.

Just a reminder: keep pet waste out of compost bins/yard waste collection. Always bag pet waste and put it into your trash.

By Scott Chase and Joan Schrammeck, Stewardship Committee

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