Pearl Homes


Pearl Home Sustainable Yard Program
1000th Pearl Home

The 1000th Pearl Home!

So much of the progress we have made in restoring our waterways is a result of the great work our residents are doing to change their practices and adopt more sustainable behaviors. These PEARL HOMES are all over Virginia Beach. PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our community and our environment and want to do what they can to live responsibly and help protect our resources.

Our daily habits and decisions make a difference. Whether you have installed a rain garden or rain barrel, made a pledge to “scoop the poop” or switched to a reusable water bottle and reusable grocery bags, you are helping to bring our waterways back to life, and we would like to recognize your efforts.

It takes a community to restore and protect our waterways. We know how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful place. Water is a large part of our daily enjoyment, our recreation, our local food and our livelihoods. We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

Virginia Beach residents, Apply Now to become a PEARL HOME  and help us show the community the great work you are doing. Fill out our online application by clicking on  PEARL HOME   You can also download a copy of the Pearl Home Application and mail it to LRNow at Brock Environmental Center, 3663 Marlin Bay Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23455.

If you are already a Pearl Home, look over our Pearl Home Resource Card to remind you of the extra initiatives you can take around your house and yard, and where you can find more information to guide you through those actions.

We now have more than 4,000 Pearl Homes in Virginia Beach – thanks to all of our Pearl Homes for making clean water a priority. Keep up the good work!

To continue raising awareness of our Pearl Home program, you can volunteer to become of PEARL NEIGHBORHOOD Block Captain. Block Captains will encourage all of their neighbors to become Pearl Homes with them. As a Block Captain, you can tailor your efforts to your own neighborhood and go about inspiring your neighbors in any way you see fit (door to door, civic league discussion, Pearl Home block party, etc.). If you are interested in becoming a Pearl Neighborhood Block Captain, e-mail

Get together with your neighbors and become a Pearl Neighborhood! You and your neighbors can become a Pearl Neighborhood by completing the three items below:

– You must offer a Lynnhaven River NOW education opportunity for your neighbors.

-At least 30% of your neighbors must be Pearl Homes.

-You and your neighbors must have at least one environmentally focused community project. For example: Community rain garden, pollinator garden, kitchen garden etc.

After completion we will present your neighborhood with a beautiful Pearl Neighborhood banner!

If your neighborhood is interested in becoming a Pearl Neighborhood e-mail

Congratulations to our current Pearl Neighborhoods on joining together to make an environmental difference:

  • Atlantic Shores
  • Lynnhaven Dunes
  • Pine Ridge
  • Westminster Canterbury

Pearl Home Tip

Pearl Home Tip Keep Your Storm Drain Clear of Debris We often talk to you about ways to reduce the stormwater running off of your property. Rain gardens, infiltration trenches, rain barrels pervious pavers and replacing turf grass with planted beds all reduce the amount of water that runs off of your property during a...

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Pearl Home Tip

Scoop the Poop and Don't Feed Wildlife  When our LRNow was founded in 2002,  only 1% of the Lynnhaven River met the rigorous water quality standard for shellfish harvest.  Our other saltwater rivers and creeks in Virginia Beach, Ruddee & Owl Creek and the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, were in similarly bad shape.  Where...

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Gardening and Lawn Care

There are a variety of ways we can lessen our day-to-day impact by making small changes in our daily activities that can decrease the amount of pollution leaving our yards.

Properties that are on the water can help filter out pollutants by installing Living Shorelines or planting a buffer between their lawn and their adjacent waterway. Whether you have a bulkhead or a natural shoreline, a Buffer helps to filter out a variety of pollutants and slow stormwater’s entrance to the waterway allowing more to permeate the soil instead of entering the river. Buffers also work to filter and slow water at your curbside, so installing buffers to reduce your street-side stormwater runoff also helps to improve water quality. The best buffers have a variety of native plants, including shrubs, trees, perennials, and non-turf grasses.  Learn the best plants to include in your buffer in our Buffer Restoration Publication.

Read how Tree Protection is connected to the water quality in the Lynnhaven.

Reducing Stormwater Runoff
One of the easiest ways to do this is by simply reducing the amounts of storm water that leaves your property. Adding a Rain Barrel to a downspout is a simple and fun way to collect rainwater. Besides helping the waterways by reducing the amount of storm water runoff, you have a free source of untreated water to water your plants, clean your garden shoes and a limitless number of other around-the-yard jobs. Another way to reduce the runoff from your yard is to add a rain garden. A Rain Garden is simply a small bio-retention area in your yard to hold storm water long enough to allow it to filter down through the soil instead of adding to the amount of storm water leaving your property. Lynnhaven River Now can offer design and funding assistance for rain gardens to homeowners in the Lynnhaven River watershed only through our new Sustainable Yards program.

Reducing Pollutants in Stormwater Runoff
In addition to living shorelines, buffers, rain gardens and rain barrels, there are other ways we can lesson our day-to-day impact by making small changes in our daily activities that can decrease the amount of pollution leaving our yards.

All homeowners can reduce pollution by using only the amount of fertilizer needed on their lawns and gardens. Getting a soil test is one of the best ways you can make sure your turf grass and garden have what they need to provide a green lawn to which you look forward to and also protect water quality in the Lynnhaven River. Plants obtain a variety of compounds from the soil that allow them to grow and thrive. When the soil is depleted of these compounds, such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous, plants become unhealthy. However, adding these nutrients to your yard without knowing what it needs may place excess nutrients on your lawn that will simply be washed away in the next rain instead of being used by the plants you are trying to feed. In the Tidewater area, the soil is naturally rich in phosphorous and a soil test may report that no more is needed.

Excess nutrients are one of the Lynnhaven River’s biggest pollution problems.

If your home is within the Lynnhaven River watershed, we offer a Pearl Yard Plan through our Sustainable Yards program that can help you get on the right track.

Virginia Tech also offers assistance to homeowners by providing soil test materials and instructions and by analyzing the soil collected and providing that analysis with fertilization recommendations back to the homeowner. You can find out more about soil sampling through Virginia Tech here You can pick up soil sample forms and materials at the Lynnhaven River Now office as well as the local agriculture extension office and some public libraries. More fertilizer guidelines can be found in our Lawn Care for the Lynnhaven, as well as other ways to make your lawn care more watershed friendly. Our River Friendly Gardening publication can give you other suggestions to improve the overall health of the Lynnhaven while enjoying a beautiful landscape. And don’t forget, one of the most important things you can do to reduce pollutants in your storm water runoff is to clean up animals waste. Animal waste contributes excess nutrients and harmful bacteria to our waterways. Ducks and geese are big culprits as well.

Reusable Shopping Bags

A River of Plastic in our River?

bagPaper or Plastic? The best answer is “No thank you.”

Plastic trash of all sorts has become a huge and ever growing environmental problem. When we do our regular clean-ups in the Lynnhaven, the items that we find most frequently are the ever-present plastic bags and plastic bottles. We fill 15-20 garbage bags with plastic bottles and other plastic trash every six weeks in one 3-4 mile stretch along the Lynnhaven River. Think about that for a minute. Multiply that times our 150 miles of Lynnhaven River shoreline and you have a lot of discarded plastic bags and plastic bottles. The problem of what happens to all of the discarded plastics is a worldwide problem.

There is an area in the center of the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles across called the North Pacific gyre where a circular pattern in the currents traps floating objects. It is t is full of plastic trash—oil bottles, fishing line, nets and ropes, cracked bath toys—for hundreds of miles. Scientists are discovering growing numbers of fish, marine mammals and sea birds with their stomachs full of plastic bottle caps, disposable lighters and other plastic trash. This is pretty depressing information. Add one more dismal fact to this picture. The tiny pellets that all plastics are made from, called nurdles, are being found at alarming levels in some areas of our oceans, out numbering phytoplankton, and mixed in the sands on our beaches.

Each of us can contribute to reducing the problem of plastics in our environment by reducing our use of plastics and carefully recycling the plastics that we discard. Number 1 and number 2 plastics are the easiest to recycle and are the ones that are most likely to actually be recycled. Another way that we can help is to use reusable bags for our groceries and other shopping. This is why Lynnhaven River NOW decided to start selling reusable shopping bags—to help reduce the number of plastic bags ending up in our rivers and oceans.

Our sturdy, foldable bags are navy blue, and feature the LRNow logo, website address and motto, “Restoring the Legend.” Each has a plastic insert to help reinforce the bottom panel. Bags are $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00. Call our office to order: 757-962-5398, or email Reusable Bags.

Don’t Feed the Ducks

duckduckpoopDuck and goose poop ranks right up there with dog waste when it comes to causing high bacteria counts in the Lynnhaven River.

That’s because an unnaturally high concentration of ducks and geese live year round on our waterways, which means an unnaturally high concentration of poop too. This mixture of domestic and wild waterfowl are encouraged to gather in huge numbers by handouts of breadcrumbs and corn from well meaning citizens.

Feeding the ducks is a little like motherhood and apple pie, yet it’s time to bite the bullet and stop feeding our feathered friends. That simple step could help to eliminate up to a third of the river’s fecal coliform!

Besides, nobody ever said breadcrumbs were nutritious duck food! Waterfowl can also suffer from disease that spreads easily among overly large concentrations of birds. This can be particularly unhealthy for wild ducks and geese that drop in to feed with local birds because these birds are less immune to disease than the locals.

Less than 100 years ago, the Lynnhaven River was a waterfowl haven. Far more wild ducks and geese than we have today wintered on the river, but the birds migrated north in spring and pollution was flushed from the river.

Today, our local populations don’t leave. It is obvious that many more of them live at a place like Mount Trashmore than could live there if people weren’t feeding them. They get fat and happy and bring even more ducks and geese into this unnatural world. And of course, that means more poop too.

For more information, go to:

Scoop the Poop

Scoop the Poop

Pet Waste and Water Quality: It’s Not Just on the Lawn, It’s in Your Water

What is the problem?

Scooping your pooch’s poop isn’t just a courtesy for those walking behind you; it is also the healthy and environmentally sound thing to do. Pet waste can be a significant source of water pollution. When pet waste is not properly disposed, it can be carried by rainwater runoff directly into nearby waterbodies or into storm drains. Storm drains in streets and neighborhoods flow directly to a stream, river, or estuary without any treatment. Untreated animal fecal matter and wastes are a source of harmful bacteria and nutrients in water. Just as we don’t want human sewage in our water, it is important to prevent pet waste from being carried into our waterways because of negligence.

Are you risking your health?
People are at risk of getting sick from drinking or swimming in water contaminated by pet waste. Dogs can be significant hosts of disease causing organisms, including giardia and Salmonella, which are protozoan and bacterial infections transmitted to humans by animals. Our beaches in Virginia Beach have been closed due to bacteria contamination and 60% of the Lynnhaven River is closed to shellfish harvest because of bacterial contamination.

The latest research
The environmental impact of dog waste has gone unrecognized for decades. Scientists recently developed a new lab technique of fingerprinting DNA to match bacteria found in the water to the bacteria from specific animals, including humans and domestic animals. Using this type of forensic science, scientists have found that dogs are a significant contributor of harmful bacteria in our waterways.

Other neighborhood water pollutants
Dog waste is only one of many pollutants from our neighborhoods that add to water pollution. Lawn fertilizers, motor oil, driveway sand and salt, and soapy water from washing cars in driveways commonly end up in our streams, lakes and rivers.

What you can do:You can follow these easy steps to be part of the solution to pet waste contamination.1.  The first step is to always carry a plastic bag with you when you walk your dog. Re-using an old newspaper delivery bag or plastic grocery bag works well.2.  Using the bag like a glove, you can then pick up the pet waste, turn the bag inside out around the waste, seal the bag, and dispose of it in a trash can. You can also flush un-bagged pet waste down the toilet.3.  Don’t place the bagged or un-bagged pet waste in a storm drain or hose the pet waste towards storm drains as they drain directly to a stream, river, lake or other water body.4.  Cleaning up after your pets in your own yard is as important as cleaning up after them in public places.

Spread the word

Tell friends and neighbors about the affect of animal waste on the environment and our health. Encourage them to clean up after their pets and to dispose of the pet waste properly. The SPCA sells Baggie Dispenser Boxes which you can fill with re-purposed grocery bags for poop scooping for $25. Visit this website for more information and to find out how to install a Baggie Dispenser in your neighborhood park.

For a printable version of this page, click here.



You can help restore the legendary Lynnhaven. Get involved with Lynnhaven River NOW today,
Or consider a donation through our online store.



Lynnhaven River NOW recognizes schools providing outstanding environmental education as a Pearl School.



We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.