Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Eco-Friendly Backyard *Guest Post*

Most of my readers will already know all these basics, but it's a good reminder that 'the well manicured lawn' is just plain 'wrong.' I love planting vegetables in my 'lawn' area, but there are plenty of other options. Enjoy this guest post by Emma L., a science and technology writer who enjoys studying phlebotomy and dreams of joining the league of radiology technicians.

Theres no place near the normal American home that doesn't reek of conspicuous consumption, and the backyard is certainly no exception. As post-WWII suburbs sprawled across the nation, so did the idea that a happy home was one in which the front and back yards were covered in emerald green turf. Not only does keeping a carefully maintained lawn use up an incredible amount of water (and money!), it also keeps rainwater from making its way through the soil to groundwater and causes pesticides and fertilizers to flow into nearby streams and rivers. Here are a few tips to green up your backyard and save a little dough in the process.

1. Get Rid of the Lawn
What is the alternative to a cushiony green pillow extending from your doorstep to the curb? How about a garden of native shrubs, flowers, and trees? Itll need to be watered and troubled over much less than a lawn, will allow water to percolate through the soil, and it will attract native wildlife.

2. Collect Rainwater
Having the sprinklers or the hose running all the time zaps money from your pocket and uses up precious resources. Consider putting barrels in your yard or under your gutters to catch rainwater to use on your plants, instead.

3. Mulch Those Plants
Even if you get rid of your water-sucking exotic plants and make the switch to native species, you can still preserve energy by mulching around what you do have. Mulching keeps the sun from sucking up water out of the soil.

4. Compost
Composting is a low-cost way to generate nutritious soil for your garden and cut down on the amount of household waste you send to a landfill. A tumbler or regular barrel is a great way to start. Check out this Cornell site for the basics.

5. Use Earth Friendly Yard Products
Most people maintain their yards to actively enjoy them, by picnicking, letting their kids play outside, etc. But would you really want your kids playing on a lawn that had been cared for with toxic pesticides and fertilizers? Check out organic lawn care options that are safer and easier on mother nature.

6. Upgrade Your Mower
Some old gas lawnmowers emit an incredible amount of pollution. Switching to a push mower is best, as they use less energy than ride-alongs. If you can't stand the idea of pushing a mower across your lawn, an electric ride-along is your next best bet.

This eco-friendly "no mow" lawn made of native grasses and plants is more attractive than any suburban turf I've seen.

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