|How to be an environmental gardener
TOP 10 WAYS TO BE AN ENVIRONMENTAL GARDENER
"Environment" seems to be one of the buzzwords of the ’90’s. And
while finger pointing is all too easy, we’d probably make a lot
more progress if we would get in the habit of pointing the finger
back to ourselves once in a while. Here are ten things you can
do in your own backyard to help preserve our natural resources
for future generations.
1. Prevent soil erosion: Soil is one of our most valuable
resources, but one which is easily forgotten. After all, it is
the source of all our food, feed, and fiber. Do your part by
covering up bare spots with mulch or plants. Consider installing
terraces on steep slopes.
2. Use electric yard tools, where possible: Small gas engines
found on lawn mowers, leafblowers, and string trimmers produce a
lot of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Although big jobs
may require the convenience of being cord free, consider using
electric tools for smaller jobs.
3. Plant to conserve energy: By planting deciduous shade trees
in strategic locations, we can shade our houses from summer sun,
yet allow winter sun to pass through. In some cases, wind blocks
can also be beneficial in reducing cold winter winds.
4. Select hardy landscape plants: When deciding what to plant,
look for characteristics such as drought tolerance and pest
resistance. This will reduce the need for applying pesticides
5. Conserve water: This can be done not only by selecting
drought tolerant plants, but also by using mulches. Mulch around
shrubs, trees, and flowers helps to hold moisture in the soil.
Water your plants when they need it, not according to an
arbitrary schedule. Get a soaker hose, which places the water
right where you need it, with little waste.
6. Use pesticides sparingly and correctly: Although pesticides
are much safer to use than they were years ago, they still have
potential to harm our environment if used carelessly. Identify
the problem, find the correct solution, and apply it correctly
according to the instructions.
7. Use slow release fertilizers: Many of the readers of this
newspaper live in the Cape Fear River basin. Although the Cape
Fear is in remarkably good shape, we must all do our part to keep
it so. Slow release fertilizers dissolve very slowly, reducing
the chance that nutrients will end up in the river or our wells.
8. Provide habitat for wildlife: As mentioned in my previous
column, there are lots of things we can do to provide food and
habitat for birds, butterflies, and other animals. This becomes
even more important as habitat is lost to the rapid pace of
9. Build a compost pile: This is perhaps recycling in its
truest sense. Using your own discards to produce something which
you can use yourself!
10. Plant a tree: Trees hold the soil in place, hold water in
the soil, moderate temperatures, and provide a sink for
greenhouse gases. Need I say more?
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