Written by Ginger Reid; Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash
While creating the most beautiful landscape you can is important to you, it doesn't trump your desire to be a friend of the environment. Mother Earth gives us a bounty of beautiful plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and it's only fair that we pay her back by being as eco-conscious in our gardening practices as we can possibly be. Here's how you can adorn your home with beauty while protecting the gift of our natural ecosystems.
While many think of water as a free, infinite resource, the truth is that water is one of our most precious commodities. You can't waste water and be an eco-conscious landscaper. One way to conserve water is to collect rainwater and use it to water your plants. Another way to is focus on quality soil. Both mulching and adding organic soil compounds to your existing soil helps it to retain water, which means you have to water it less frequently. Check here for more tips.
This is all especially important if your area is experiencing a drought. Part of your strategy for conserving water in drought-prone areas should involve the technique of xeriscaping, or filling your gardens with plants that require less moisture to survive. When you replace water-hungry plants with those that are less greedy, you can conserve water without really trying.
Nobody likes it when pests eat their plants, so it's understandable that you would want to prevent that. While chemical pesticides do work well in that regard, they are toxic to animals, pollute the water and soil, and can have adverse effects on any foodstuffs harvested from your garden. Fortunately, there are natural, eco-friendly concoctions that will get the job done. These include citrus oil, cayenne pepper mixtures, onion and garlic spray, and more.
Beyond that, you should invite birds, ladybugs, and spiders into your garden. These creatures eat other insects like aphids, which are true pests to any vegetation. There are also plants that specialize in repelling harmful critters, including basil, lavender, and lemon thyme.
Composting is dirty work, so you’ll want to invest in a good pair of gloves. But the benefits of home composting are far-reaching. Not only will you reduce your own landscaping waste by turning it into nutrients (the ultimate recycling effort), but you’ll reduce your eco-footprint by limiting the amount of new materials you have to purchase. You’ll want to research strategies and ratios of green (plant and veggie scraps, egg shells, grass clippings) and brown (dead leaves, cardboard, newspaper, twigs, branches) composting materials and learn how to properly layer them. But in the end, it’s a simple process.
In the hierarchy of eco-friendly ways to trim and cut your home’s greenery, gas-powered devices like lawn mowers and weed-eaters reside at the bottom. Battery-powered devices are better, but not eco-perfect. Rotary (muscle-powered) devices are your smartest bet.
If you have a huge lawn with a lot of grass, a rotary mower is likely impractical. You then have two options: give in to the gas or simply reduce the amount of grass you have to mow to make it practical. The latter can be done through smart landscaping (more plants, bushes, and shrubs, less grass) and by creating elegant stone or brick pathways and patios.
When you make a decision to garden in an eco-friendly manner, you’re not just doing your part to help maintain the integrity of your local ecosystem, you’re making a small but still meaningful statement about global growing culture. Beyond that, it’s okay to think a little selfishly. Being eco-conscious and growing plants in a natural, non-wasteful way will actually improve the health of your own landscaping!