At Champion Carpet Cleaning and Restoration, we are passionate about the environment and the many ways we can implement these ideas to make our living space a more environmentally friendly one. It is for the very same reason why we ensure our cleaning products are also eco-friendly and safe to be used around pets’ animals and humans. Just because your garden is green doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly. A garden requires much more to be environmentally friendly.
Landscaping for an Environmentally Friendly Garden
Environmental protections benefit not only the environment, but also your lawn and your wallet by conserving water, minimizing the use of pesticides, planting native plants that require less maintenance, and reducing recycling waste. Using re-greening techniques as part of a green home means choosing plants that are best suited to your climate and geographic area, but also reusing waste to fertilize the soil. Follow these simple tips to make your garden more environmentally friendly.
Green landscaping, or greening, employs energy-saving techniques, reduces the overall use of pesticides, and minimizes waste. You’ve changed your light bulbs, installed a smart heating system, and purchased energy-efficient appliances. Congratulations on making environmentally friendly improvements to your home. However, don’t stop there. Your garden also deserves your full attention. Check out these ten tips for an environmentally friendly garden.
Choose Native Plants
To promote a healthy environment in your garden, it is best to equip your garden with plants that are native to your area. In addition to becoming part of the ecosystem, native plants will already be adapted to your climate and region. They will thrive with less care and stress, and they will also contribute to the overall health of your yard by attracting pollinators and beneficial insects.
It is also important to choose native plants that fit into the microclimate of your garden. Do you have tons of wet and shady land? Choose tree species that don’t need a lot of light. Do you have dry, sunny spaces to fill? Choose wildflowers that love the sun! Invasive non-native plants can sometimes eliminate native species, which can harm the entire ecosystem. Learn more about native Florida plants.
Welcome Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects
Pollinators, from bees to butterflies, are essential to our flowers and food. About one-third of every bite of food we eat comes from the efforts of pollinators! Native bees include Mason bees, and Leafcutter bees, all of which are solitary bees.
Instead of living in colonies, such as honeybees or bumblebees, solitary bees live alone in burrows, reeds, or other protected areas. European honeybees, while still useful, are not native to North America and pollinate much less well than native bee species (native bees can be up to three times more efficient than honeybees!).
Bees are not the only pollinators in the garden. Flies, butterflies, beetles, and wasps also play an essential role. Although you might expect butterflies to be the second pollinator, it’s the flies that hold that title. Other insects, such as praying mantises, ladybirds, and black lacewings, are fantastic for pest control. For example, lacewings and ladybirds feed on aphids, which can decimate vegetable crops.
A garden with diverse sources of nectar (shrubs, trees, and flowers, ideally native) that bloom from early spring till late fall can attract insects throughout the growing season and ultimately benefit the entire garden. For example, brightly colored flowers such as sunflowers, candy leaves, and marigolds create places where ladybugs and lacewings can take shelter and lay eggs.
Many of your feathered friends will catch slugs, snails, larvae, caterpillars, and other pests that destroy garden plants. Choose native plants that attract the type of insects, berries, and seeds that birds eat. Install bird feeders and birdhouses (including those you made yourself) to encourage more visitors to visit.
See how to choose a bird feeder. Birds also need water. Install or make a birdbath for them! It should be shallow (1 to 1.5 inches deep) and contain a few small stones or pebbles for the birds to rest on. Don’t cut the flowers of plants such as sunflowers, echinacea, and black-eyed Susans in the fall, as their seed heads provide a valuable food source for birds in the winter.
Be Water Wise
The wise use of water is an essential part of an environmentally friendly landscape – and makes the management of the garden and yard much easier!
Here are some tips:
- As mentioned above, select your plants with care!
- If you have a dry area, choose plants that are more naturally drought-tolerant, such as lavender, sedum, Dianthus (“roses”), and speedwell (Veronica).
- If you have a wetland, consider water-tolerant (not afraid of wet feet) plants such as iris, canna, and elephant ear, as well as cinnamon, marsh, and fern.
- When it comes to irrigation, sprinklers waste a lot of water; at a minimum, use sprinklers with timers.
- Of course, vegetable and flower gardens should ideally not be watered from above; this is an easy way to encourage disease.
- Use a garden hose and water directly at the ground level.
- Even better: for gardens, flower beds, trees, and other non-lawn areas, install a drip irrigation system that places water in the soil where you want it.
- Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be an economical and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property.
- Rain gardens can also help filter pollutants from runoff and provide food and shelter for butterflies, songbirds, and other wildlife.
- A rain garden, located on the corner of a parking lot, helps retain runoff water during rainstorms.
- You can also install a rain barrel to catch the water and use it on your plants.
- Organic mulch such as compost slows down water, so more moisture gets into the soil instead of running off.
- Mulch provides nutrients to the soil and helps control weeds.
- Mulch can be applied to existing ornamental beds two inches thick, but do not stack it too close to tree trunks or plant bases.
Mix “Companion Plants”
Usually, companion plants help control pests. For example, dill and basil planted among tomatoes can protect tomato hornworms. Also, mix flowers and vegetables! You don’t have to choose between growing ornamental plants and growing edible crops. Many types of flowers confuse “bad” pests and help you develop a healthier garden.
Avoid Harmful Chemicals
All gardens have pests but deter them so that you don’t harm the food you grow! For example, slugs and snails can fall on lettuce. However, instead of spraying chemicals, create barriers such as crushed eggshells that these soft-bodied pests tend to avoid. Place a strip of petroleum jelly on the containers to prevent them from rising.
Another favorite tactic is to sink beer-filled cans of tuna into the ground; slugs love beer! From Diatomaceous Earth to neem oil, there are many fewer toxic methods that work. Remember that chemical fertilizers are spreading in rivers, oceans, and wetlands. Pesticides and herbicides tend to kill many more creatures than the one or two insects we target, no matter how annoying they may be.
Do you have room in the corner of your yard? Instead of throwing away kitchen scraps and yard waste, dispose of them in a compost pile. You’ll encourage worms and insects that make compost to create rich, fertile soil for your garden within a few months. It’s also a great way to use dead leaves!
There’s also in-garden or in-situ composting, which is when you compost right where you’re going to grow—never heard of vermicomposting? Just let the worms eat your garbage! It’s an easy way to recycle food waste within the year. The United States Environmental Protection Agency shows how to create an indoor and worm composting bin. See how it works.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
In general, caring about yourself and nature means less waste of the Earth’s resources. For example: Buy in bulk when you know you will need lots of topsoils, mulch, compost, or other materials. This reduces plastic bags. Many garden centers will even deliver directly to your yard. Also, check with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They have much more information that could help you become more educated about safe and recommended practices.
Give Grass a Chance to Thrive on Its Own
If you want to grow grass, eliminate the chemical pesticides you apply to lawns in favor of healthier alternatives – healthier for you, the lawn, and the environment. Start by checking the soil pH (acidity) of your yard with a test kit available at most nursery and garden supply stores or your state’s cooperative extension services. Soil pH influences the capacity of plants to assimilate nutrients. Spread limestone to increase the pH; spread aluminum sulfate to decrease the pH level.
Grow a grass that suits your needs, not only in terms of climate and soil but also in terms of purpose. Ask your nursery to recommend grass seed suitable for your site. Don’t mow the lawn down to the ground; mow it to 2.5 to 3.5 inches high all season long. Cut to about 2 inches in the fall. And, whenever possible, use a mower instead of an electric or gas model. You’ll appreciate the absence of fumes and noise and may sleep more soundly after walking on your property.
Buying Good Garden Tools
Being frugal is not a bad thing, but let’s not behave ourselves. For instance, forget about the $1 garden hose. It will probably break quickly and become just another item to throw away. Vinyl hoses are usually the cheapest but have the shortest lifespan. Rubber hoses are more expensive, but they are more durable, more flexible, and last longer. Also, get a brass fitting, not a plastic one, to reduce leaks! Choose quality over quantity.
Do you need to buy every tool for every landscape use? If you use a tiller once a year, consider borrowing your neighbors’ tiller if you have your tools, loan the weed eater twice a year. Also, if you have the time, stop at garage sales and thrift stores. It’s incredible how many garden tools are sitting in someone’s garage, and the older tools are usually better designed than, the newer ones!
If you have your own unused tools, give them to a neighbor or thrift store! Working with nature, not against it! We hope these eco-friendly ideas will help you create a garden and yard that works better with nature. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.
Is your garden green? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!