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


Fuels and other household hazardous products that are improperly used, stored or disposed can enter groundwater and surface water supplies, impacting water quality and human health.

Household products are hazardous if they include ingredients that, when improperly managed, pose dangers to human health or the environment. A variety of household products are hazardous. Motor oil, pesticides, oil-based paints, mothballs, flea collars, weed killers, medicine, and household cleaners may seem like everyday items, but they are examples of household hazardous products.

Specifically, a substance is considered hazardous if it is corrosive, explosive, flammable, or if it contains toxic chemicals or any other potentially harmful materials.

Proper use, storage and disposal of fuels and petroleum products

Store small amounts of fuel (a couple of gallons at a time) for motorized equipment in a dry, well-ventilated space away from the house and in an UL-approved container.
Use all stored fuel for motorized equipment by the end of each season.
Examine storage containers and equipment often for leaks and repair promptly.
Do not fill machines with fuel or perform maintenance near drinking water wells, storm drains and surface waters and be mindful of spills.
Recycle used motor oil. The Town of North Kingstown Transfer Station accepts used motor oil free of charge. Check with your local transfer station - many of them do.
Properly dispose of other hazardous products such as automotive fluids, degreasers, oil-based paints and paint thinner, etc. at the RI Eco-depot. NEVER dump in the backyard, down a drain, or in the trash.
Consider replacing underground fuel tanks (for home heating fuel) with properly contained above-ground tanks. Check all laws that apply, contact your local town hall building official.

Motorized equipment that is not regularly and properly maintained can result in gasoline or oil leaks. As little as one gallon of gasoline can contaminate groundwater above health advisory levels. Gasoline may also contain additives like MTBE, which is highly soluble in water, and once in the groundwater, can move quickly and be very difficult to clean up.

Fertilizer and pesticide use

Minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Use non-chemical options where possible. Refer to our Healthy Landscapes pages on Use fertilizers and pesticides responsibly and healthy lawn care for more information. You can also find information about household pests and alternative control options with the URI Master Gardener Hotline.
Purchase only the amount of fertilizer and pesticides needed and use these products according to the directions specified on the manufacturer’s label.
Store these products in a dry, well-ventilated spot in their original containers.
Properly dispose of leftover products at the RI Eco-Depot or give to others who can use them. NEVER dump extra in the backyard, down a drain or in the trash.
Do not fill fertilizer spreaders and pesticide sprayers or apply them near a drinking water well, storm drain or surface water and be mindful of spills. If spills occur, clean up promptly and do not allow them to wash away with stormwater.

General tips for all hazardous products

Follow the product manufacturer's label carefully. The effectiveness, use and safety of a product are based on the directions specified in the label.
Buy only what you can use in a relatively short time.
Search out neighbors, community organizations, schools, or others who may be able to use surplus household products.
Recycle wastes whenever possible.
Do not mix products. Mixing different chemicals together for use can result in explosive or poisonous chemical reactions.
Keep products in their original, labeled containers and out of the reach of children.
Do not burn empty containers, as fumes may be harmful.
Learn to recognize which household products are considered hazardous. Consider using nontoxic, non-hazardous alternatives.

For more information about proper use, storage and disposal of fuels and hazardous products and alternative products

URI CE Home*A*Syst Program factsheet: Household Hazardous Products and Water Quality Protection and webpages.

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

Healthy Landscapes Pages:
Use fertilizers and pesticides responsibly
Healthy Lawn Care

The Rhode Island Resource Recovery, RI Eco-Depot
Information and educational materials on household hazardous waste disposal, safe alternatives and recycling

The Town of North Kingstown Transfer Station
345 Devil’s Foot Road
(401) 295-4766
Information about the Town of North Kingstown’s recycling program and waste handling

RI and MA Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention

EPA’s Pollution Prevention webpages