The spring growing season is currently underway with yard owners and garden lovers happily planting, fertilizing, watering, and trimming. While these efforts can be helpful to the environment, they can also be very harmful when using growing practices common to many of us. What techniques and eco-friendly landscaping can you use to grow your greenery sustainably?
Creating your eco-friendly landscaping starts with plant selection and choosing species that are native to your area. Consulting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map will allow you to determine which growing zone you reside in. Then do your greenery research and refer to plant guides that correspond with the hardiness zone where you live to pinpoint native plants to include in your landscaping or garden.
Native plants have the advantage of having adapted to growth in your area for millions of years, so they will need less maintenance—including less water and pesticides—because they know how to survive in your climate. They will also attract local birds, butterflies, and other wildlife that are accustomed to and depend on the existence of these plants.
Just like eating a diverse diet helps your gut microbiome and improves your health, planting a diverse garden and landscape aids the health of your soil to enhance the growth and success of your plants.
With that in mind, planting a grass lawn does a disservice to your soil, reducing its nutrient content and requiring that more fertilizers be used to maintain it. In addition, ditching the lawn will allow you to plant native species, that will in turn support local wildlife and will save you time and money by not having to mow a lawn throughout the year.
Another eco-friendly growing practice that benefits your soil is using organic fertilizers and chemical-free methods to allow your greenery to thrive naturally. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides interfere with the natural photosynthesis of grass and plants and kill microorganisms in the soil, reducing soil biodiversity and health. Plus, they can pollute waterways, harming the ecosystem.
In a previous post, I touched on the importance of watering at dawn or dusk, when the sun is low and less water will evaporate. There are other techniques that you can implement to maximize your water efficiency.
Related to planting, xeriscape landscaping is designing an outdoor area with water conservation as the priority. It employs measures like planting native species, grouping plants with similar watering needs together, and minimizing the use of lawn grass.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program also provides suggestions for irrigation systems and sensors to keep your landscaping healthy while reducing the amount of water used to maintain it.