Earth Day Starts in Your Yard

By Galtime Landscape Designer Wells Rawls

With Earth Day this week, Americans are asking how they can do a better job every day to leave the planet better off for their children and generations to come. Overwhelming doesn't begin to explain how it feels when we try to pick something to do to have a positive impact. So many aspects of the Earth Day fight for a better planet are abstract like climate change, species extinction and population control. It can be easier to deal with if you focus on small things to do in every day life like recycling, buying local food, and driving less. Yet, did you know that every aspect of your landscape maintenance uses petroleum?

Traditional landscape maintenance uses oil in many ways.

  1. Chemical fertilizers use oil and natural gas in their production.
  2. When applied, they flush unnatural, excessive growth onto plants.
  3. Gas and diesel is used in mowers and trimmers to cut back that growth.

4. Heavy, over pruning cause stress and other problems like pests and disease.

5. Petro-chemical pesticides are then used to treat these problems.

6. Energy intensive potable water is used to re-grow the plants after heavy pruning.

7. The cycle is started all over again.

Stop the insanity!

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Whether you own or rent your home, you can take steps now, today to make a difference. And guess what? You'll save money. Doing the right thing for the Earth is cheaper too. When does that happen?

By switching to natural and organic landscape and garden methods, you can reduce petroleum use, reduce local air pollution, and increase bio-diversity in your neighborhood.

  1. Using natural and organic fertilizers eliminates petroleum and re-uses waste products like animal manure, and landfill garbage.
  2. Natural and organic fertilizers keep plant and lawn growth slower and steadier so clippings are reduced.
  3. Soils become healthier and have more beneficial bacteria, fungi, and worms to help roots grow deeper and access more water thus reducing irrigation requirements.
  4. Less growth means less mowing and trimming so less emissions from mowers and weedeaters.
  5. And of course if the plants are healthy , they have less pests and disease.
  6. Lawns that are allowed to have other plants like clover and other so called 'weeds' will invite beneficial insects and butterflies that will then invite birds and other animals to increase bio-diversity and add life to your garden.

The best part is once your landscape and gardens are stable and biologically active, they can maintain themselves. That's when the savings begin.

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Chemical lawn and garden treatments like artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides have to be repeated continually to be effective which is expensive. A landscape on chemicals is like a doctor's patient on antibiotics. If the core problems of the patient like diet, exercise, and exposure to harmful environments are not fixed, no amount of drugs and vitamins will cure the patient.


FIVE STEPS TO A MORE EARTH-FRIENDLY YARD:

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  1. Know Your Landscape - learn more about how plants grow and thrive and what they need to thrive.
  2. Switch to natural fertilizers.
  3. Prune with hand tools instead of power hedge trimmers when possible.
  4. Treat pests with natural non-toxic products like Neem Oil and soaps when they do occur.
  5. If your landscape is still plagued by pests consider replacing the affected plants with something more suited to the local environment.

This Earth Day you can feel good about having and immediate impact on your local environment as well as helping the larger world to become healthier and more bio-diverse. So, go outside to start your natural landscape care program today. If you have any tips or tricks you use to become more organic in your landscape or garden leave them in the comments below.

And if you want more information about "being green" outdoors, check out my website at ecolandscapegroup.com.

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