It’s easy to feel like you can’t make a difference in the larger events of the world. But there are very few people who have the influence to effect great economic changes. But just like voting, each individual DOES have an impact on the larger picture. It may take a ridiculously close election to make us realize that sometimes even a few votes can change who is elected. Well, each one of us can also impact the eco-system. Each person who starts to garden with sustainability in mind starts to turn around the demand that increases waste. Better, each person who uses more of the newly available products and systems developed in this country to improve sustainability in the home and garden is helping us develop new industries to help employ more people, create more jobs and help end the recession.
Here’s a list of just some of the things you can do to save money, help the planet, make your garden more enjoyable and maybe even more beautiful while helping to end the recession. Some of these projects you can do yourself. Some you’ll need to hire professional help. Or you might just compromise and do a little of both. Check into all the exciting products now being marketed that allow you to change your yard into a sustainable yet lovely garden. Many make building and maintenance easier. Most will end up saving you money.
Add solar lights to the garden.
Build in solar panels.
Grow native and water-wise plants.
Add permeable paving.
Build in water collection and storage from rain barrels to underground tanks.
Recycle or use recycled building materials.
Design in the right irrigation systems and add smart timers, subsurface drip lines, low volume emitters and spray heads or other appropriate water application systems.
Design shade trees on south or west facing sides of your house to cool your home with shade.
Regularly check for water drips or leaks.
Roof with living roofs or reflective colors and materials on all structures.
Grow fruits and vegetables — organically.
Use organic pesticides and fungicides, or better, hand wash and pick pests or build physical barriers.
Learn about companion planting.
Add natural drainage and erosion controls.
Build with your natural wildlife habitat in mind.
There are many more ways to make your garden more eco-friendly and comfortable. The first thing to make it all work is to change your thinking. All successful environments are systematic, that is, each piece interacts with the next. Your garden is a whole event where soil, water, light, living and non-living materials all work together to create a whole. That whole landscape system then interacts with your house and the surrounding land. In short, everything is inter-related. If you build your landscape as a whole, not only will it function in a healthy, easy-care manner, but it will look great, just like all the pieces in a fine work of art blend together to make a whole, beautiful painting. And not only will you increase the beauty of your property, you will reduce the labor needed for maintenance and save money on energy bills. Plus you will be installing new, green materials produced by emerging technologies that can help us all create jobs and end the recession. Whether you start off small or go for big changes, adding sustainable products and systems into your property is a perfect solution that each one of us can start doing right away.
If you want to make your garden water efficient there are lots of ways you can turn water-wise gardening into landscape beauty. You can channel water into useful yet decorative recycled ponds, dry riverbeds for drainage and water storage areas. You can plant drought-tolerant gardens or design in artistic permeable paving. Removing lawns is the most Eco-friendly way to garden, but if you really want to have grass, you can keep your lawn confined to areas where it is most useful and plant it with drought-resistant types of grass.
Here is a list of some of the better grasses you can use for drought-resistant gardens:
- Fescues: creeping red fescue, hard fescue and chewings fescue – best in northern gardens or as cool season grasses (can be mixed with Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Ryegrass)
- Bermuda grass
- Zoysia grass
- Buffalo Grass
- St. Augustine – best for dry winter areas
- Bahia grass
- Centipede grass – best for shade
- Also look for special mixtures of drought-resistant blends specifically made for your area like EcoGrass™
Give your grasses regular lawn care and make them useful rather than just filling in spaces.
For areas with a lot of traffic or difficult upkeep like pathways, dog yards or golf putting greens, you might want to check out some of the interesting artificial lawns being produced. Fake grass now comes in a selection of interesting and realistic textures and hues. When properly laid, these synthetic lawns will only need an occasional hosing down to keep them clean and handsome.
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