In addition to creating habitat for wildlife, the way we maintain our property can positively impact wildlife as well. In fact, our every day choices affect the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in and the soil we rely on for healthy plants and nutritious food. So consider gardening the green way - aka earth-friendly, organic or environmentally-friendly gardening - and feel good at doing your part to create a healthy world for us all!
Here is an overview of some things to consider incorporating in your gardening practices. For the complete scoop, visit our Green Gardening section in Gardening 101+.
Water is a big topic in many areas as residents are asked to cut back water usage. Conserving water in cities and towns means we take less water from the local river which lessens the disturbance on that river and its aquatic life. It also means less processing at a plant before it’s pumped to our home. For those on wells, it means taking less groundwater – a source that is hard to know just how much we have available to begin with. We can minimize our water use by nourishing our lawns and garden beds with compost and other soil amendments so plants can retain moisture better, without getting waterlogged. We can also mulch our garden beds with the leaves from our trees and catch water from our roofs in rain barrels.
Another green gardening practice is to make compost. Not only is the end product highly valued by gardeners for its nourishing and soil amending properties, but by sending our kitchen and yard waste to a compost bin rather than a landfill, we help landfills last longer. This saves tax dollars and wild spaces involved with siting a new landfill. It also minimizes the toxic leachate that occurs in landfills.
Using this compost and/or other natural fertilizers helps to strengthen plants, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers which can be too strong for both the plant and soil organisms. It will also help prevent excess nutrients being carried away to water systems where it can be disruptive. Using natural fertilizers and soil amendments also helps reduce the need for pesticides. These herbicides and insecticides can harm organisms other than those targeted and affect environments far beyond the garden.
Another useful practice is companion planting. This method of planting herbs, vegetables and flowering plants in certain combinations helps maximize the plants' nutrient intake or deter pests from feeding from on preferred plants.
Also keep in mind that while lawns are a useful and enjoyable component to a garden, when we keep its size to a minimum and include natural habitat, we can bring back greater balance to our gardens, which supports the other organic methods above. It can also minimize pollution in terms of its maintenance. Reexamining how we water our lawns and leaving clippings to fertilize the grass are other ways to support our wildlife and environmental gardening choices.
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