Monday, June 30, 2008

8 Ways to Green Your Garden

By Trey Granger

Summer is a great opportunity to spend time in the garden. Sunny days provide nice weather and extra daylight. School is out so you've got extra potential workers. The ground is fertile from springtime rain.

Your garden may seem very green by definition. But here's a few ways to reduce the impact your garden has on the environment as a whole.

1. Plant Within Your Environment

In a perfect world, you could grow cactus in a tundra climate and a lawn of Bermuda grass in the desert. Guess what? Plants don't work that way. Before you start growing something, do some research to see what it needs to survive in your area. Otherwise, you may end up using lots of water and other resources to have “something different” in your backyard.

2. Water in the Mornings

Like it or not, some of the water meant for your plants will evaporate before it reaches the soil. This is compounded on a hot day. Watering in (or setting your sprinkler timer for) the morning can save 50 gallons of water a week.

Other good water saving tips:

  • Sweep away leaves with a broom/rake instead of a hose

  • Check your sprinkler heads periodically for leaks

  • Install a control nozzle on your hose

3. Compost

Soil and fertilizer are expensive, so why not make your own? Take organic waste from your kitchen (fruit/vegetable peels, egg shells) and mix with yard waste (leaves, flowers) and water. The result is compost, which is rich in nutrients and will help your plants grow.

4. Find Second-Hand Supplies

You may not want to buy underwear used, but how about a shovel or wheelbarrow? Look for these items at garage sales and thrift shops before buying a new one. If you do buy new, ask if the products come with a warranty so they will last you a long time.

5. Reuse Your Pots

Plants die, but pots rarely do. Save the pot and soil if one of your plants expires. You can even create your own pots by drilling a hole in old butter containers or flipping over a drum. If a pot breaks, you can usually glue it back together with no loss of quality.

6. Grass-cycle

One of the least fun tasks of mowing the lawn is picking up the scraps. It's actually beneficial to your garden to leave them there. The grass clippings will provide nutrients to the remaining yard as they decompose. Plus, you'll have one less plastic bag to dispose of.

7. Recycle Yard Waste

If you decide that composting isn't for you and you enjoy picking up grass clippings, definitely recycle your yard waste. This material takes longer to decompose in a landfill when buried under a pile of plastic. Plus, if your local community accepts yard waste you may be able to exchange it for compost to use in your garden. Recycle yard waste using Earth 911.

8. Use Natural Pest Management

Pests can wreak havoc on your garden. But you don't need pesticides to keep them away. Pesticides harm all kinds of living things, including humans. Plus, they can be easily transferred into natural bodies of water and our water treatment systems are not designed to remove pesticides.

You can plant natural pest repellants like chrysanthemums and marigolds nearby. Learn other ways to practice integrated pest management.

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