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Garden Waste Reduction

Landscape Services maintains over 525 acres at Cal Poly. Landscape services use various resource management techniques on the campus. You may be able to use these techniques for your own garden.

Landscaping Supplies 

Fertilizers and pesticides can be purchased in bulk quantities, reusable containers, or water-soluble packages. Bulk packaging reduces the amount of waste per unit of product, and usually costs less. 

Landscape Design and Installation 

Plant Selection

With appropriate landscape design and plant selection, the landscape waste stream can be significantly reduced, in turn reducing the overall waste stream. An effective way to reduce waste by design is by using plants that require less pruning. Choose plants that fit the available space in order to minimize pruning needs. In addition, the use of both winter and summer perennials can give year-round color without the cost and waste of replacing annual plants.

Irrigation Systems

The proper design and operation of irrigation systems can help reduce unnecessary excess growth, maintenance requirements, and subsequent waste. Use of drip irrigation places water next to the plant, enhancing plant health, as well as minimizing weed growth. 

Soil Amendments

In addition to plant selection and watering, soil preparation is an important factor in landscape waste reduction. There are soil enhancement products on the market that contain up to 100% recycled content. Compost, which has been used by farmers for centuries, is a ready-to-use soil enricher that looks and feels like dark, crumbly soil. It is made from recycled organic matter, and has numerous beneficial effects, both before and after planting, as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. 


Mulch is any material (wood chips, compost, paper, shredded tires, rocks) placed over the soil surface to reduce evaporation and erosion, prevent weed growth, and insulate plants from extreme temperature changes. Mulch can be applied 3-6” deep on top of your soil. Do not bury or dig in the mulch; just keep it on the surface. It is also best to keep mulch a few inches away from the trunks of trees to prevent fungal infections. 

Landscaping Edges

Landscape edging helps to contain plant material in a given area, or simply define areas within a landscape. The requirements of a given landscape make selection and installation of edging materials relatively important. Small differences in products can result in long-term savings for the property owner. Effective containment and durability save maintenance dollars in the future. Begin by considering what type of edging material is best to use. By asking your landscape supplier you should be able to find materials that are either 100% recycled or have some recycled content. 

Landscape Maintenance

On average, Cal Poly produces over 455 tons per year of grass clippings. These clippings can be incorporated directly back into the soil. Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. Moderate growth through proper management, or more frequent mowing, will produce short clippings that will not cover the grass surface. Grass clippings decompose quickly and release valuable nutrients back into the soil. Manufacturers sell mowers that are capable of grasscycling, or have kits, which can convert conventional mowers. If clippings must be collected, they should be composted.