Just because the gardens in the front and backyard of your home look green doesn’t mean they are environmentally sound. According to experts, typical homeowners are unaware that they usually apply seven times more chemicals per acre to their gardens than those used in agriculture, much of which has the potential to run into local lakes and leach into groundwater.
There are ways, however, to make sure you are living green and making your landscaping as environmentally sensitive as possible. Here are the top five “greener” landscaping ideas:
In order to have environmentally friendly landscaping, it is important to take the appropriate steps. By hiring a landscaping service to conduct a thorough site analysis at the onset, you’ll be better able to use elements like sun exposure, wind, drainage and the impact of different soil types to your advantage. This step will likely lead to a more natural, healthier garden, and reduce your dependency on fungicides to prevent disease and stimulate healthy growth.
Develop your landscaping to use water efficiently. This practice is referred to as “Xeriscape,” and is pronounced “Zera-scape.” Xeriscaping refers to creating a landscape that limits the need for irrigation. This originated in arid regions of the U.S., but is catching on across the country as water use becomes restricted in many areas. One way of limiting water use is to group plants with similar water needs together so water isn’t wasted. Additionally, you can plant shrubs and trees in your yard that require little water. Some annual flowers require substantial water each week.
In order to be certain your plants are resistant to drought, insects and others issues, soil preparation is essential. Prepare your planting beds by digging to a depth of more than 12 inches and using enriched organic matter, which will result in stronger root structure for all types of plants. Make sure you loosen the root ball of plants from containers to ensure the roots grow outward allowing for proper water penetration.
Once you’ve utilized the appropriate soil and properly established your plants, you still have to consider the ongoing water needed to sustain them. Drip irrigation and soakers are most appropriate when trying to conserve water. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests sprinklers can waste up to 50 percent of water used. If you need to use a sprinkler, run it during off peak hours, either late in the evening or first thing in the morning.
Due to their limited impact on the soil, environment and household pets, organic fertilizers are becoming increasingly popular. They are available in many areas, both in dry and liquid form, and have many of the same benefits of harsher chemical fertilizers. Whichever you use, remember that over-fertilizing (especially with chemical fertilizers) is the cause of many problems in lawns and gardens, such as burnt brown lawns. Using organic fertilizers is as simple as sprinkling grass clippings over your lawn—a perfect alternative to chemical fertilizers—as grass clippings contain high nitrogen levels and can supply your lawn with a third of its nitrogen needs.