|Top Green Gardening Tips
Top Green Gardening Tips
- Keep it real
You know what they say about Mother knowing best? Well, Mother Nature never needed to steal sips from a chemical cocktail of pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers to keep her act together. Nix the poisons and layer on some all-natural compost, instead. Call in beneficial insect reinforcements to wrestle pesky garden pests to the ground. Who needs to play Command & Conquer when you have battlefield drama unfolding before you in real time?
- Make compost from kitchen scraps
Compost like a champ by throwing in your vegetable waste,
instead of allowing it to be trucked off to the landfill. Known as
"gardener’s gold," compost enriches soil fertility by giving it a shot
of high-powered, plant-loving nutrients. Aside from stimulating healthy
root development, the addition of rich and earthy compost also improves
soil texture, aeration, and water retention. Why waste your hard-earned
cash on commercial products when the real deal is free for the taking?
Speed up the process with the help of earthworms or go wriggle-free (if you’re the squeamish sort).
- Buy recycled
If your delicate aesthetic sensibilities balk at the idea of reusing
yogurt or takeout containers to house your hydrangeas, check out the
myriad environmentally friendly planters and raised-garden kits now
available. It takes less energy to recycle something than to mine virgin
materials, so whether you choose recycled copper, plastic, or even
rubber to anchor your tender shoots, it’s all copacetic. Admire your
handiwork and eco-smarts while lounging on recycled lawn furniture.
- Grow your own food
Buying organic produce can admittedly get pricey, so how about growing your own food
instead of painstakingly manicuring that lawn for the umpteenth time?
An estimated 40 million acres of the 48 contiguous American states are
covered in lawns, making turf grass the United States’ largest irrigated
crop. American homeowners apply a cringe-worthy tens of millions of
pounds of fertilizers and pesticides to their lawns, often at many times
the recommended levels. All that for little more than ornamentation.
It’s time to return to the use of gardens as food sources—you won’t find fresher (or cheaper) eating anywhere else.
- Join a community garden
Urban dwellers bereft of a yard shouldn’t fret: You can still get in on
the hoeing and growing action by signing up for a plot at your local community garden.
Community gardens typically have a communal composting area, as well,
so if you don’t have room for one of those triple-duty rotating barrel
composters in your home, here’s your hookup.
- Go native
Now that you’ve learned some of the merits of "de-lawning" your home, consider replacing the ol’ putting green with native and indigenous plants,
whether they’re cactus gardens in Arizona or bottlebrush grasses in
Northern Michigan. Already adapted to local conditions, native plants
are easy to grow and maintain, generally requiring less fertilizer and
water, as well as less effort to rein in pests.
- Harvest rainwater
Adding a rain barrel
is an inexpensive and effortless way to capture mineral- and
chlorine-free water for watering lawns, yards, and gardens, as well as
washing cars or rinsing windows. By harnessing what’s literally raining
from the sky, you’ll not only notice a marked dip in water costs, but
also a reduction in stormwater runoff, which in turn helps prevent
erosion and flooding. Pop a screen on top of your barrel to keep out
insects, debris, and bird missiles, and make frequent use of your water
supply to keep it moving and aerated.
- Water with care
While we’re on the subject of water, adopting a few smart-watering
habits will do much to stretch out your supply, especially during dry,
hot spells in the summer. Adding mulch and compost to your soil will
retain water and cut down evaporation. Plus, soaker hoses or drip
irrigation only use 50 percent of the water used by sprinklers. Water
early in the day so you can avoid evaporation and winds. And the best
place to drench your plants? Directly on those thirsty roots.
- Bring on the butterflies and bees
Provide a pesticide-free sanctuary
for our pollinator pals, such as butterflies and bees, by growing a
diverse variety of native flowers they’re particularly drawn to, such as
wild lilac, goldenrod, and lemon balm. (Gardens with 10 or more species
of attractive plants have been found to entice the most bees.) If you
haven’t already heard, we’re in the throes of a major bee-loss epidemic,
which is causing beekeepers in North America and Europe much
hand-wringing. Because pollinators affect 35 percent of the world’s crop
production—and increase the output of 87 of the leading food crops
worldwide—extending a little hometown hospitality could go a long way.
- The power of 4
Get hip to four "R"s of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenScapes program:
Reduce, recycle, reuse and rebuy. You want to reduce your output of
waste to ensure you’re using materials efficiently. Reusing compost and
tree clippings for mulch, or rainwater for watering take up little time
and energy, but offer plenty of environmental bang for your buck.
Recycling saves resources, while rebuying means seeking products that
meet your needs, but are more environmentally friendly than your usual
purchases—take, for instance, solar outdoor lighting versus
(« Go Back)