The best place to start in making your yard more eco-friendly is to rethink the landscaping. The good news is that spring is just around the corner and rethinking your landscaping at this time means you don’t have to sacrifice the attractiveness of your lawn. The first step of rethinking your lawn is to evaluate how much grass you really need. Most people can replace a significant amount of grassy area with border gardens, which can use mulch and compost. Increasing garden areas also reduces the amount of time and gas spent mowing the lawn, which in turn reduces greenhouse emissions. By reducing the amount of grassy areas around your home, you can also decrease the amount of water you use on your lawn. Most homeowners already use too much potable drinking water on their lawns and also over-water planting beds, both of which are unnecessary. Today, irrigation system technology exists that can detect when the yard actually needs water in order to avoid misusing resources.
The next step to greening your yard is doing away with exotic plants that require a great deal of watering. Replace these plants with ones that do not require a lot of water such as trees, shrubs, ground cover or flowers. Once these plants make it through the initial transplant shock and growing season, they won’t require frequent watering. Wildflowers are also a great choice for large areas that you don’t want to mow or maintain. Wildflowers come in many different mixes that pertain to various soil types or moisture collection. If you must include exotic plants in your landscaping, attempt to group them together in a single area in order to maximize water usage. Also, consider installing a drip irrigation system, which releases slow and small amounts of water directly onto the soil’s surface and decreases the amount of water lost to evaporation.
Beyond the simple water requirements, using native plant species in your landscaping has a variety of other benefits. Plants that are native to the area tend to be hardier in the natural climate. These plants also provide a natural habitat and food supply to insects and birds, which not only saves money on bird feed but also gives your garden a Zen feeling. For example, shade trees can provide a wonderful home for birds, the native flowers will product nectar for pollination and the animals will not get sick from pesticide laden plants.
For areas of your lawn that are covered with grass, there are a number of options for maintaining a healthy lawn without applying chemicals. One of the most viable options is to dethatch (remove the woody parts of the grass) or aerate (remove plugs of soil) your lawn. Both options keep your lawn healthy without broadcasting chemicals across the lawn. In order to fertilize your lawn, rely on natural fertilizers such as compost, bone meal and blood meal, all of which are available at garden centers.
Being earth friendly in your garden is one trend that is catching on in all stages of agriculture and horticulture. Whether working around a large farm or a small home, more people are turning their backs to harsh chemicals and resource-depleting treatment methods. As a result of this trend, retailers are stocking their shelves with organic fertilizers, weed control product and other tools that provide environmentally friendly ways to work in your garden.