You may have the greenest lawn on the block, but is your garden really “green,” meaning ecologically friendly? Often the answer is a resounding “NO.”
Just the fact that you have a lawn at all can be an indicator that your landscape is not as green as it could be. Lawns generally need more water and fertilizers than other plantings. Plus, they need to be mowed approximately once per week in the summertime, and if you don’t have an electric or reel mower, you’re burning fossil fuels every time you mow.
What are some ways you can create a garden that is really green? How can you create an eco-friendly landscape design?
When it comes to an eco-friendly landscape, being water-wise means not only reducing the amount of water you use, but also managing stormwater – water that falls during a rainstorm, on site. Stormwater often gets directed to a pipe as soon as possible and then directed to a river, pond, or sewer. But, it is possible to capture it, store it, and redistribute it to be used again. For example, direct the downspout from your rain gutters to a rain barrel and then use the captured water to irrigate your landscape.
Reduce Impervious Surfaces
Another way to create an eco-friendly landscape design is to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces on your property. Impervious surfaces are areas like concrete, asphalt, and stone pavers where water cannot penetrate the surface. The water that used to soak into the soil has to go somewhere. When water can’t infiltrate the soil surface, it causes problems downstream and has detrimental effects on rivers and streams. Pervious concrete and asphalt have come on the market and offer an alternative to impervious surfaces.
Use Drought-Tolerant Plants
This tip is related to being water-wise. If you want to create an eco-friendly landscape design, use drought tolerant plants.
Native plants are well-adapted to live in the area in which you live. Plus, they typically will provide a food source or some sort of ecological input that supports local insect and animal species.
Build and Protect the Soil
In most suburban and urban areas, the soil is terribly depleted of minerals and nutrients. By amending the soil with organic fertilizers, cover crops, and compost, you can support an eco-friendly landscape design and help protect the soil structure. This creates a more nutrient-rich soil in which your plants can grow.
Grow Your Own Food
From farming methods to transporting food, we rely on fossil fuels to feed everyone in the United States. You can do your part to reduce the use of fossil fuels, reduce food miles, and provide nutrient-rich vegetables to your family by growing your own food. You can grow a surprising amount of food in a small space, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply walk out your back door and harvest some lettuce for dinner?
Get to Know Beneficial Insects
Many gardeners mistakenly think all insects are bad. If they don’t recognize a particular insect, they go get the sprayer and shoot the insect with a chemical pesticide until it dies. This is one of the worst things you can do. Why? There are many insects in the garden that help keep the “bad bugs” in check.
Have you ever noticed a rose bush covered in ladybugs? They’re probably there because they’re eating the aphids. If you look closely you’ll see them. However, if you see the ladybugs, mistakenly think they are hurting your roses, and decide to kill them with pesticides, you’re actually creating more work for yourself. The next time the aphids come, and they will, there will not be ladybugs there to defend your roses. You have just inherited the ladybugs’ job. To create an eco-friendly landscape design, you must understand your ecosystem. That means getting to know the beneficial insects in your garden and learning how to support them in their work of defending your garden.
These are just a few of the many ways in which you can create an eco-friendly landscape design. The bottom line is that you must work with nature, not against it.