Sunday, January 25, 2015
If you are wanting to be more sustainable in your home, don’t forget the yard and garden. The typical American yard uses billions of gallons of water and hundreds of millions of pounds of fertilizer each year. Why not leverage your lawn space more sustainably?
Here are 10 tips for a more sustainable garden and yard:
- Go organic. Eliminate chemicals from your yard and garden. Organic fertilizers last a lot longer and won’t cause lawn, flower or veggie burn like a chemical fertilizer will. Many chemicals to get rid of bugs these days are “systemic” and stay in the plant for months and even years and kill the bees and other beneficial insects.
- Use mulch in your garden. Mulch is a home run. It keeps weeds from sprouting, it keeps moisture in the ground so you don’t have to water as often, it adds organic matter to your garden, and it looks nice.
- Plant natives. Those trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses that are native to your area are well acclimated to your climate and pests. You can plant and they will take care of themselves.
- Save seeds. Growing from seed saves you money, allows you to grown interesting varieties, and raise crops that are uniquely adapted to your garden conditions. You can get seeds by saving your own, your neighbors, favorites from the farmers market, and even from the produce and fruits you buy at the grocer.
- Lose your lawn. Lawns in America are a big drain on the pocketbook and time while not providing food for your family or critters. Add decorative flower beds with natives. Start using at least a part of your lawn for growing herbs, fruits and vegetables for you and your family. Nothing is better tasting and better for you than fresh out of the garden and onto the table.
- Water less. Purchase natives and look for drought tolerant in the descriptions of plants and seeds you are buying. Set up a rain barrel to use for the flower beds. Use drip hoses instead of sprayers these can save up to 70% on water. Use mulch in not only your flower beds but also your garden beds. Go organic on lawn care. Organic, all natural lawns are more tolerant of the summer conditions and need less water to survive.
- Grow your own food. You can easily add fruits and veggies to your existing flower gardens. You can easily expand your garden beds to accommodate herbs and veggies. If you don’t have room for a flower and veggie garden bed, you can grown anything in a self watering pot. There has been a bonanza of new container varieties developed over the last few years. It is easy to grow and eat from the garden spring, summer and fall.
- Plant perennials. Annuals take a great deal of inputs to grow from seed each year. With perennials, you get the benefit of the inputs for years and years versus just one. Don’t forget about perennial edibles, too! Herbs are a great beginners choice.
- Compost. Don’t throw those table scraps in the trash to just go sit in a landfill someplace. Re-use their nutritional value in your garden by composting them. There are basically 3 types of composters: a bin that you layer browns/greens and it takes a year to break down, a tumbler type that you throw the browns/greens together and crank daily to mix up giving you compost in a couple of weeks, and an electric type that can be used indoors or outdoors that gives you compost in a couple of days. Why throw out all those food nutrients when you can reuse them in your own garden for free?
- New methods for the lawn itself. For your lawn, mow high. The higher grass shades the ground, causing the soil to not dry out as quickly and helping keep some weeds from growing. Use an electric or manual lawn mower. We purchased a self propelled electric mower this past year and it works great! Don’t buy the typical seed mix. Purchase low growing grasses so you only need to mow monthly instead of weekly. Here is a site to purchase low growers for your area: www.nicholsgardennursery.com