What's Wrong with This Image?
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Test how much you know about lawn care practices that help keep our waters clean.

What's wrong with this image? Nothing! It illustrates several good lawn care practices that prevent pollution. Compare it with this image:

The bottom image shows at least eight common practices that cause pollution.

How many practices that can pollute our surface- and groundwater can you spot? Answers are below. (Don't peek.)


  • Grass clippings are blown into the street and the storm drain. From there, they are washed into surface waters, where their high phosphorus levels can pollute streams, rivers, and lakes. The mulching mower in the top image returns the clippings to the lawn where they belong.
  • Leaves raked into the street also end up in the storm drain, causing pollution.
  • The boy using the rotary spreader leaves fertilizer on paved surfaces where it will get washed into the storm drain, causing pollution. The drop spreader in the top image is a better option.
  • Weak turf by the corner of the driveway leaves soil unprotected. Sediment can wash into the storm drain, causing pollution.
  • The sprinkler left unattended overwaters the "dog walk" area. In the top image, the girl cleans up after dog promptly, before feces can damage turf or get washed into the storm drain.
  • The woman overwaters the lawn, causing runoff down the driveway. In the top image, she is using a coffee can to measure how much water will infiltrate into the lawn before runoff occurs. That way, she can calculate how long she can run sprinklers without overwatering.
  • Fluids from the leaky van and improperly stored products in the garage are washed down the driveway and into the storm drain.
  • The downspout from house discharges into the driveway, washing pollutants and soil from weak turf along the edge of the driveway into the storm drain. A better option is to discharge in a spot where the water can soak into the soil while moving away from house (as in the top image).
What's Wrong with This Image?