VANCOUVER -- Many people are rethinking how they care for their yard by cutting back on lawn chemicals and fertilizers. There are some easy strategies to improve the health of a lawn and make it safer for your family and the environment.

Susan Rubin has cultivated her garden chemical-free for 20 years, and grows a myriad of vegetables.

“Got a little baby bok choy, some salad,” she says. “And then I got some radishes coming up.”

And she knows that a yard free of synthetic chemicals requires some strategy and a bit of a holistic approach to improve the health of the soil and prevent pest outbreaks before they happen.

It’s not that complicated to do, says Consumer Reports’ Catherine Roberts.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but cut back on watering your lawn,” she suggests. “Watering less will encourage the grass to grow deeper roots and develop resistance to drought.”

And because watering at night can actually promote fungus, make sure to water the lawn or garden only during the early morning.

While it gets a bad rap, clover is very good for your lawn. It adds nitrogen and keeps other lawn weeds at bay, so let it grow and help your lawn stay healthy.

When it comes time to mow, keep the grass a little taller at three or four inches. Keep the blades on your mower sharp and use mulching mode. That will cut the grass into fine clippings and deposit them back into the soil. Clippings actually contain many of the same nutrients found in chemical-based fertilizers, so you won’t need to use them.

When it comes to planting your garden, Roberts suggests sticking to native plants.

“Native plants have evolved to thrive exactly where they are,” she says. “And they’ll attract local birds, and beneficial insects and pollinators.”

Finally, if you have the space, add a compost pile or bin to recycle table scraps and garden waste. You’ll be rewarded with nutrient-rich compost that will help your plants and lawn thrive.

With files from Consumer Reports