Sustainable Landscaping

intro to the basics
1   choose the right plant for the right spot
2   recycle your yard waste
3   use fertilizers and pesticides responsibly
4   water wisely
5   reduce runoff from your yard and increase groundwater recharge
6   reduce soil erosion. keep it planted and mulched
7   pick up after your pets
8   use and dispose of fuels and hazardous products properly


Grass clippings, leaves and plant prunings are a valuable source of mulch and nutrients for lawns and gardens, but are pollutants when washed directly into storm drains and surface waters.

Recycle these valuable nutrients on the spot and reduce / eliminate the need for fertilizers and supplemental watering. This also reduces the amount of solid waste going to the landfill.

Many gardeners know the value of composting yard waste. Compost provides a slow, steady release of nutrients. It also builds soil organic matter, which improves soil fertility and moisture holding capacity.

To be successful, composting does require the use of proper materials / ingredients and methods.

URI CE Master Composter and Recycling Program

The RI Resource Recovery Corp.

The location of a compost pile in your yard is also important. Do not locate a compost pile near a storm drain, surface water or drinking water well.

The Town of North Kingstown offers a program where residents can bring leaves and grass clippings to the Town Transfer Station free of charge. The Town then composts these materials and allows residents to pick up finished compost for home use, also free of charge. Check with your local transfer station for similar programs.

Yard waste can be handled in other ways. Do you find yourself disposing of leaves, grass clippings and brush while buying mulch?

With a mulching lawn mower, grass clippings and leaves can be chopped and left on the lawn, serving as a source of slow-release nutrients and building soil organic matter. Most standard lawn mowers can be retrofitted with a mulching blade kit.

Leaves and grass clippings can also be raked and used as mulch in gardens and beds. Mulch is valuable in conserving soil moisture, regulating soil temperature, suppressing weeds, and building soil organic matter.

Pine needles as mulch. URI CE Botanical Gardens

If you have tree limbs, brush, and large prunings, consider renting a wood chipper and using the finished product as mulch or as a material for walkways, parking and recreational areas.

For more information about recycling yard waste

URI CE Master Composter and Recycling Program

URI Master Gardener Hotline: 1 (800) 448-1011

Town of North Kingstown Transfer Station
Information about the Town of North Kingstown’s recycling program.

The RI Resource Recovery Corp.
Compost information and resources including bins

Healthy Landscapes Demonstration Sites

Information on composting livestock manure - Small Acreage Livestock Education Program