University of Maryland Extension

Water & Chesapeake Bay

Bay-Wise - Better Water Quality Through Smarter Gardening

The Maryland Bay-Wise Program is a homeowner education program conducted by Maryland Master Gardeners.

The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and a vital part of the state of Maryland. Yet, the Bay is in trouble due to population pressures from pollution and sediment runoff which affect its watershed. Most Maryland residents live within a half-mile of a drainage ditch, storm drain, stream or river. Most of those waterways eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay. What we do to maintain our own landscapes can affect the health of our local waterways, the Chesapeake Bay and our environment.

The overuse and misuse of pesticides and fertilizers, soil erosion and poor plant selection have all damaged Maryland’s streams, rivers and the Bay. Environmentally sound gardens and yards combined with sustainable gardening practices can help improve water quality and conserve our natural resources for future generations.

The MD Bay-Wise Program focuses on water quality. It comprises a comprehensive set of environmental topics that affect the quality and quantity of water here in Maryland. Most of these topics relate to landscape management, however, a few, like hydrology, wells & septic systems, hazardous household products and water conservation, address household issues.

We all need to do our part to take care of our waterways and environment. By changing a few simple landscape practices, you and your family can help keep Maryland communities healthy.

How Do I Get My Home Landscape or Vegetable Garden Certified as Bay-Wise?

Interested in making your landscape more environmentally sound? Follow these three steps:

1. Download the appropriate MD Yardstick along with an application
2. Complete the Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick Application
3. Contact the  Charles County Master Gardeners (link sends e-mail) to sign up for a site visit for certification.  Do not submit your completed Yardstick and application before you contact your local Master Gardener program.

Once a 'Bay-Wise trained' Master Gardener certifies your home landscape you will receive a small sign to display in your landscape and a certificate. Even if you do not have your landscape certified, you can still do plenty to reduce pollutants going into the Chesapeake Bay by following the suggestions in the MD Yardstick.

Helpful Links:

How can I receive credit toward the Stormwater Remediation Fee?(external link to Charles County Government)

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