What You Can Do
Each of us plays a part in helping to restore and protect the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and the environment in which we live. We can each commit to being personal stewards in protecting the waterways where we live, making sure they are here for future generations. Below is a list of ways your can take action:
Use Proper Fertilizers & Pesticides
When using fertilizers, consider these tips:
Nitrogen - Encourages foliage growth.
- Use SLOW RELEASE as it gives your plant smaller feedings more frequently.
- Trade words that identify SLOW RELEASE Nitrogen fertilizer include Timed-Release, Slow Release, Controlled Release, Nitroform, Ureaform (UF), Water Insoluble Nitrogen, Isobutylidene Diurea (IBDU), Sulfer-, Polymer-, Platic- or Resin-Coated Urea.
Phosphorus - Contributes to plant rooting.
- Likely not needed unless you have a newly seeded area.
- Go “P” FREE with Phosphorus free fertilizer. A label with 0 as the middle number indicates “P” FREE and supports the H20 in the Lag00n.
Potassium - Contributes to the overall health of plants.
- Provides a balanced “diet” for your lawn, making sure that there’s a 2:1 ratio: that the first number (NITROGEN) equals the third number (POTASSIUM).
Summer Fertilizer Ban!
Commit to the summer no phosphorus or nitrogen fertilizer ban that runs June 1 – Sept. 30 each year in Brevard County.
Learn Proper Lawn & Garden Maintenance
Utilize these recommendations to support a healthy lagoon.
- Manage Water Use
- Compost or Mulch Yard Waste
- Recycle Rainwater – Install a Rain Barrel
- Direct Gutter Downspouts to Vegetation
- Use Municipal Collection for Yard Waste Sparingly
- Never Apply Fertilizer or Pesticide Before a Rainstorm
- Sweep Rather than Hose Down
- Return Grass Clippings to Yard
- Pull, Mow or Spot Treat Weeds
- Pull, Mow or Spot Treat Weeds
- Use Pesticides Sparingly
- Properly Dispose of Paint and Batteries
Pick Up Pet Waste
Leaving pet waste on the ground increases health risks and can spread disease. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria and pathogens that are destructive to our waterways. Be courteous and dispose of all pet waste properly – bag it and trash it!
Adopt Safe Car Maintenance
- Wash your vehicle at a commercial car wash: they recycle their water, which traps the dirt, oils, greases, and auto fluids and prevents them from entering a storm drain and eventually the Indian River Lagoon. If you must personally wash your vehicle, wash it on the grass where soil will trap the dirt and grime.
- Check your vehicles, watercraft and other machinery for leaks and spills. Repair leaks immediately.
- Use a service station for all automotive oil and fluid changes. Vehicle care facilities have materials on hand to quickly clean up any spills that may result. If you do this yourself, remember to keep absorbent material like cat litter on hand for any potential accidents, and dispose of the litter with your regular garbage pickup.
- Recycle used oils and other fluids at participating service stations or bring them to area hazardous water collection centers. Most places that sell oil, will receive used oil for disposal. To find a location near you, visit earth911.com. NEVER dispose of vehicle oils or fluids down household drains or storm drains.
Live More Sustainably
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle & ReUse!
- Recycle! Follow the accepted materials guidelines of your municipality.
- Buy Recycled goods.
- Recycle vegetation debris on the lawn or compost. Sweep or blow cut grass on all paved areas back on the lawn. Compost yard waste or participate in municipal collections or drop-off on your own. This includes your annual Christmas tree too!
- Reuse materials for art projects at home, at your local schools and daycare centers.
- Recycle Water: Use rain barrels to recycle rainwater. Consider rearranging your plumbing so that rainwater or wastewater from your shower and tub is used to flush your toilet. Water your garden with leftover bathwater or dishwashing water (if you use a biodegradable soap).
Put Litter In Its Place
- Put litter in its place – including cigarette butts.
- Litter is eventually carried to storm drains, and litter that is too big to fit in the drain blocks the flow of water causing flooding. If the litter is small enough to fall through the cracks, it enters the underground pipes that lead to storm water ponds and eventually to the Lagoon or the St. Johns River.
- Sometimes animals mistake trash for food and they can become entangled, sick or die.
Using native plants in your yard not only beautifies your yard but creates a landscape that is best adapted to local conditions. Native plants better manage rainwater, reduce irrigation needs and increase survival rates of plants. They are more likely to establish in the ground quickly and will naturally be hardy and healthy because they’ve learned to grow among local conditions. With deep growing root systems that help break up the soil, native plants allow more water to drain into the ground and reduce run off. You will use fewer chemicals to eliminate pests, creating better air quality in your surroundings.
Your landscape will create a habitat for wildlife that is beneficial to the environment and adds life to your outdoor space. Local birds and pollinators like bees and butterflies help your garden thrive. But native plants also create homes for small animals and organisms in the soil – all with a job to do to support the environment.
Additionally native plants promote wise stewardship of the land and conservation of our natural areas. Native plants can decrease added pollution because they eliminate the need for mowers and other equipment and can pull and store excess carbon.
Add a Buffer Zone
In 2021, Restore Our Shores (ROS) began to explore the possibility of using buffer zones to stop water runoff from entering the Lagoon through waterfront property while at the same time engage the community in restoration.
What is a Buffer Zone?
A “buffer zone” utilizes native shoreline plants and mulch to create a barrier between Lagoon-adjacent yards and the water, preventing fertilizer and yard clippings from washing out into the Lagoon. This not only filters pollutants, prevents erosion and reduces sedimentation, but keeps excess nutrients from entering the lagoon, promoting healthy conditions for seagrass growth.
Buffer zones have other benefits, too. Buffer zones reduce the water consumption needed in a typical yard and removes the need for fertilizer, making this a sustainable solution to preventing Lagoon pollution and other harmful conditions such as algal blooms.
Create Your Own Buffer Zone
While the Zoo does not currently install buffer zones at private properties, we encourage residents who live along water to pursue the addition of a buffer zone as part of their landscape plan. This is a simple way to contribute to lagoon restoration.
To assist homeowners, the Zoo has a publicly accessible buffer zone site at Oars and Paddles Park, located at 1329 Banana River Dr, Indian Harbour Beach, FL 32937. Anyone interested in learning more about buffer zones, or who wants to see one in person, can visit this site.
Create a Living Shoreline
A living shoreline refers to the use of vegetation, oyster reefs and other organic features to control erosion, reduce wave energy and improve water quality instead of the traditional hardened inorganic structures such as seawalls, bulkheads and rock revetments. If your property has a natural shoreline, you can add shoreline protective measures to your property in addition to the buffer zone. Check out how you can help through Oyster Gardening, Clam Restoration and Mangrove Planting.
We're Here to Help
Restore Our Shores needs your donations and/or volunteer time to reverse environmental damage. Take a look through our project sections to see the ways we are already helping.