Creating an outdoor space we love makes us feel good about our surroundings. Gardening and landscaping can be a great hobby, a form of stress relief, and good exercise to boot. If you are interested in putting together a more eco-friendly environment, you are in luck because there are several strategies that will help you be a better friend to the planet, without compromising the aesthetics of your outdoor space. Here are just a few to get you started.
Make Sure You Are Using Native Plants
Native plants, well, are just that—native. Over thousands of years, they have evolved and adapted to life in a particular geographic region. If you are interested in being more eco-friendly, it is important you populate your outdoor space with plants that are naturally found where you live. This offers many green benefits.
· Native plants don’t need fertilizers, large amounts of which make their way into lakes and rivers, leading to excess algae growth. Too much algae reduces the amount of oxygen in water, which harms any life living there.
· Native plants need less pesticide. Like fertilizers, it makes its way into the water, where it does all sorts of damage. Regular exposure to pesticides used in gardening and landscaping may also be a risk factor for various health problems, such as cancer.
· Native plants help you save on water. Because they are highly adapted to the environment in which they originated, they are used to whatever amount of water falls at specific times of the year.
· Native plants support local wildlife, and serve as a source of food and shelter.
You can find native plants at local nurseries and home stores. You can also find many options online; for example, you can shop plants and trees at willisorchard.com that are best fit for your geographical region. This will both benefit the environment and make your gardening easier (as plants grow best in their natural climate/region).
Reducing Water Use
Tending to our outdoor spaces accounts for a large percentage of water use by the average household, too large a percentage. The main issue is people not knowing the proper ‘protocol’ for watering gardens, lawns and the like, which leads to unnecessary water usage. Lucky for you, you are about to learn several ways in which you can conserve water without compromising the health of your plants.
Watering plants in containers is best in the afternoon, while it is best to water your garden and lawn in the early morning—temperatures are lower, there is less wind, and less heat means less evaporation. If you boil or steam vegetables, think twice before pouring the water down the sink—save it for your plants. It is rich in nutrients your plants need to grow healthy and strong.
If you are not using mulch, you are not offering optimal protection against water evaporating from the soil. It forms a protective layer that helps the dirt hold onto moisture more efficiently. It also helps by discouraging the growth of weeds that steal that precious water. Choose coarser mulch that lets water run through into the soil, and won’t clump up like finer mulch does.
Not all insects are bad when it comes to your garden. Some are actually quite good because of their ability to repel the ‘bad’ insects that will damage your plants, and you can actually buy many of them. Lacewings eat all different kinds of bugs and their eggs. Lady bugs are more than just the cutest bugs, they gobble up the most problematic pests, such as aphids and mealybugs. Parasite wasps help get rid of pesky moths.
If you want a bit of help with your composting, slaters and slugs are good; they are superstars for breaking down organic matter, turning it into that nutrient-rich compost that will help your plants stay healthy and strong.
This certainly is not an exhaustive list of ways to be more green with your gardening, but following these three tips will put you well on your way to a greener, healthier, more beautiful landscape.