Creating a sustainable or eco-friendly yard through mindful landscaping and upkeep can save you time, money, and energy while protecting the Earth. Eco-friendly landscaping conserves water, supports wildlife, reduces pollution, and leaves you with a healthy and beautiful yard. From choosing native plants to collecting rainwater to limiting water usage, there are many ways to beautify your yard while being conscious of your carbon footprint.
Native Plants and Hardscaping
When thinking about what to plant, consider native plants. Native plants are naturally adapted to your regional environment. If you live in a drought-prone area, choosing native plants can help you use less water, as they’re adapted to the droughts. Furthermore, native plants help sustain native bee populations. To discover native plants in your region, simply enter your zip code on the National Wildlife Foundation’s website, and they’ll offer suggestions for shrubs, trees, grasses, and flowers.
You can be green with hardscaping too. For driveways, choose permeable pavers over concrete. They’re a more eco-friendly option because they allow water to flow into the ground instead of running off into storm sewers, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. Opt for recycled or reused materials, such as bricks, stones, glass, and concrete materials in other areas of your yard. If you’re building a fence or deck, try to use recycled or sustainably harvested materials. A living wall or hedge is an even better option.
Water Consumption Awareness
During the hottest parts of summer, skip watering your lawn. This allows the grass to go dormant, which it’s naturally programmed to do. Skipping watering altogether is ideal, but if you do water, ensure it’s a deep soaking. When you shallow water the lawn, you’re promoting shallow root growth, which is more susceptible to drought and insect issues. To conserve soil moisture, use organic mulch in garden beds and around trees.
Almost 70 percent of water pollution comes from stormwater runoff, and half of that pollution comes from chemicals used in yards and homes. To stop pollution in its tracks, replace storm sewers with rain gardens. A rain garden is a landscaped garden that’s placed in a shallow depression where runoff from your home’s roof or hardscaping is directed. You can also collect rainwater runoff from your roof in rain barrels and use it to water your garden. Making a rain barrel is fairly simple, or you can purchase one.
As previously mentioned, choosing native plants is beneficial in drought-prone areas. You can be mindful in other ways if you live in these types of regions as well. For example, xeriscaping, which means landscaping with minimal water use, is a great option. Because the lawn is usually the number one area of water consumption in a yard, xeriscaping involves reducing lawn areas and replacing remaining grasses with varieties that survive on rainfall, such as buffalo grass and blue grama grass. The best grass will depend on the region in which you live.
Xeriscaping also involves grouping plants by water needs, called irrigation zones, and choosing efficient watering methods, such as watering by hand, drip irrigation systems, and bubbler emitters. Previously mentioned eco-friendly ideas are also incorporated into xeriscaping, including rainwater collection, the use of mulch, redirecting runoff water, and using pavers.
Part of eco-friendly landscaping also involves reducing waste. To reduce waste and increase fertility in your lawn and garden, create compost piles out of twigs and leaves instead of bagging them as yard waste. Also, instead of bagging lawn clippings, use them to smother grass, which will decompose and add nutrients. Recycle plastic garden pots and flats, and switch from gasoline-burning machines to those with electrical engines. However, note that electricity still causes pollution, so use manual tools whenever possible.
There’s no need to implement every eco-friendly idea overnight. Start small by changing watering methods and planting a few native plants. Over time, you can incorporate more ideas, like collecting rainwater and creating a rain garden. An eco-friendly yard gives you a beautiful lawn, while also conserving water, reducing pollution, and sustaining wildlife.
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