Protecting & Restoring Long Island's Peconic Bays

Healthy Soils

Soil is a living and life-giving natural resource. Maintaining healthy soils will keep your yard productive and reduce pollution to local waterways.

Volunteers laying mulch down to prepare the Big Duck Native Plant Garden for winter.

Volunteers laying mulch down to prepare the Big Duck Native Plant Garden for winter.

The Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) developed a comprehensive, concise and user friendly Soil Health Guide to help the public understand the connection between healthy soils, clean waters and a functioning landscape. The Guide highlights best management practices for professional landscapers, landscape contractors and homeowners.

Why is Soil Health Important?

Healthy soils play an important role in the filtration of pollutants carried by precipitation and stormwater runoff. Good soil health also facilitates reduced fertilizer use and reduced watering. Good soil health is therefore critical to maintaining good ground and surface water quality on Long Island.

Freshly planted plants at the Peconic Estuary Program Riverhead Rain Garden.Poor soil health results in increased impermeable surfaces, increased stormwater runoff, diversions and man-made waterways, which ultimately leads to higher pollution loads into our surface water bodies.

What Influences Soil Health?

Soil health is influenced by manmade changes to topography, soil texture, drainage, vegetation and landscape design. Too often artificial drainage patterns and systems are developed and constructed during development of land which do not support plant health—an important component in healthy soil systems. Artificial drainage systems often become overwhelmed and erosion issues and flooding of the existing natural drainage systems increases as a result, thus compounding the problem.

Improve Soil Health on Your Property by following these Sustainable Lawn-Care Tips:

  • Cut your lawn no shorter than 3 inches to encourage deep roots.Freshly planted plants at the Peconic Estuary Program Riverhead Rain Garden.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn as an additional nutrient source.
  • Don’t overwater lawns (excess irrigation causes soil nutrients to be lost).
  • Use compost to fertilize.
  • Use appropriate grass varieties (e.g.,sun tolerant vs. shade tolerant). Fine fescue blends are best suited for low maintenance lawns.
  • Work to improve soil structure (soil aeration, optimize pH, and additions of organic matter, etc.)
  • Plant natives and participate in the Peconic Estuary Homeowner Rewards Program.
  • Check out the Soil and Water Conservation District’s LI Soil Health Guide!

Learn more about what you can do in your yard to reduce pollution to our bays on the Create a Peconic Friendly Yard page.


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