Landscaping for the Environment
1. Keep it small. There is no better way to have an environmentally friendly landscape than to have a small space. Big yards generally require more maintenance and will require chemical or mechanical assistance. If you have a big yard look at “keeping what you need and returning the rest.” Put in groupings of small trees and shrubs where you don’t need lawn or living space. You can do this inexpensively by planting bareroot in the spring. Or seed a prairie or “rough area.” This also can be inexpensive and, if done right, quite attractive. These areas will be excellent resources for wildlife and could include edible fruit trees and shrubs. Trees like white pine are self-mulching and require little maintenance long-term.
2. Retain Your Rain. Storm water that ends up in the street is collected and jettisoned into our rivers and streams. This not only jeopardizes the health of our waterways, but ends up causing huge dead areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Plus our cities’ storm water systems are overloaded and will cost billions to redo. Try to keep all of your stormwater on your lot through the use of raingardens, driveway troughs and permeable pavers. Most lots can capture most of the stormwater during even a hard rain and let it filter on-site with some re-engineering.
3. Right Size Your Lawn. I love lawns. A beautiful green yard is visually calming and there is nothing better for play. But lawns can require a lot of maintenance and offer very little habitat and complexity for other living things. Design the lawn to be the size you need. And use No-Mow or other alternative lawns where appropriate.
4. Grow Your Own. By growing your own fruits and vegetables you relieve pressure on the agricultural industry to take more and more land for farming. I heard somewhere that 40% of Russia’s vegetables are sourced from individuals’ gardens. Share with neighbors – create community.
5. Use it; love it. The more you are in your landscape using it and loving it, the more you will be able to weed a little, notice little changes and be a devoted caretaker.