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      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation

Landscaping and garden maintenance activities can be major contributors to ocean pollution. Soils, yard wastes, overwatering and garden chemicals become part of the urban runoff mix that winds its way through streets, gutters and storm drains before entering the ocean.

Poorly functioning sprinklers and overwatering, for example waste water and increase the number of pollutants flowing into storm drains.

Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are washed off lawns and landscaped areas. These chemicals not only kill garden invaders, they also harm useful insects, poison fish and contaminate ground and ocean water.

Leaves, grass clippings and tree trimmings that are swept or blown into the street and gutter are also ocean polluters. These wastes clog catch basins, increasing the risk of flooding on your street, and carry garden chemicals into the ocean. As they decompose, they also absorb oxygen fish need to survive.

Sweep–don’t hose down sidewalks Household toxics-such as common household cleaners, paint products and motor oil can pollute the ocean and poison the groundwater if not disposed of as hazardous waste.

Take your household chemicals and toxics to a local Household Hazardous Waste Roundup or the City of Los Angeles HazMobile instead of dumping them on the ground, down the sink or into a gutter, street or storm drain.

Call the City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation 1(800) 98-TOXIC or the Los Angeles County Household Hazardous Waste Department 1 (800) 552-5218 to find out when a neighborhood roundup event will take place in your community.

Light Construction

Fresh concrete and mortar application materials can wash down or blow into the street, gutter or storm drain, posing a hazard to sea life and humans.

Do not mix up more fresh concrete or cement than you will use.

Store bags of cement and plaster under cover. Protect these materials from rainfall, runoff and wind, away from gutters and storm drains.

Never dispose of cement washout or concrete dust onto driveways, streets, gutters or storm drains.


  • Paints and solvents contain chemicals that are harmful to sea life. Toxic chemicals can come from liquid or solid products or from cleaning residues on rags. It is especially important to prevent these chemicals from entering storm drains.
  • Never clean brushes or rinse paint containers into a street, gutter or storm drain.
  • For oil-based paints, paint out brushes to the extent possible. Clean with thinner and then filter and reuse thinner.
  • For water-based paints, paint out brushes to the extent possible, then rinse in the sink.
  • When thoroughly dry, used brushes, empty paint cans (lids off), rags and drop cloths may be disposed of as trash.

Paint Removal

  • Chemical paint stripping residue, including saturated rags, is a hazardous waste and should be taken to a household hazardous waste collection event.
  • Chips and dust from marine paints or paints containing lead or tributyl tin are also hazardous wastes. Sweep them up and save them for a household hazardous waste collection event.

Paint Recycling

Reuse leftover paint for touch-ups or recycle it at a local household hazardous waste collection event, where it will be recycled or donated to a local graffiti paint-out program.

Landscaping & Gardening

Intensive gardening and landscaping increase the likelihood that garden chemicals and soil will wash into storm drains. Pesticides and herbicides not only kill garden invaders, they also harm insects, poison fish and contaminate ground and ocean water. Follow these basic guidelines when using gardening and pest control products:

  • Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers and pesticides. Do not fertilize or use pesticides near ditches, gutters or storm drains.
  • Store pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals in a covered area to prevent runoff.
  • Do not blow, sweep, hose or rake leaves into the street, gutter or storm drain.
  • in communities with curbside yard waste recycling, place clippings and pruning waste in approved containers for pick up.
  • Conserve water by using a drip irrigation, soaker hoses or micro-spray system.

For more detailed information please refer to the BMP pamphlets:


Fresh Concrete & Mortar Application

Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers.

Compost green waste or recycle it in your City-issued green container.
Conserve water while irrigating your lawn and garden.
Chemicals should be taken to a household hazardous waste collection event. Call (800) 98-TOXIC.
Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers and pesticides.

Read labels and use as directed—do not over-apply.