Creating an Eco-Friendly Yard & Garden {Part 2}

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Creating an Eco-Friendly Yard & Garden {Part 2}

Today we are going to talk about creating an eco-friendly yard and garden. It’s easy to make your home more green. If you missed part one of this series, you can see it here.

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment.

Lawns Are Not So Eco-Friendly

Lawns don’t offer much to the environment, but they are great things on which to walk, play Frisbee, and roll Easter eggs. If you want to protect the environment, however, you’re going to have to end your lawn’s dependence on chemicals. Much of the chemical fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns are carried off by the rain into groundwater, streams and rivers, causing harm to plants and animals in the surrounding environment. (Herbicides, pesticides, and other poisons have no place in the eco-friendly garden.)

See: Eco-Friendly Soil Amendments

The good news is that these chemicals are not essential. To have a nice lawn without them, first stop cutting your grass so short; leave it three inches or longer. The lawn will look fuller and the grass itself will be healthier and start to grow deeper roots (meaning less need for watering). Second, stop raking up the lawn trimmings. Just leave them where they fall and they will break down naturally, enriching the soil.

When it Rains, It Pours

As you enrich your soil, add more native plants, and surround those plants with good organic mulch, you are also increasing the amount of rain water your yard absorbs. What does run off your property is slowed down and filtered by the soil and plant roots. Your neighbors’ less eco-friendly yard likely has harder, more compacted soil, which doesn’t absorb water easily. More rain water washes off their property, carrying loose dirt and pollution with it into the local waterways.

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You can increase this dual benefit (to your own plants and to the environment) by directing the flow of rain water on your property. Flexible drain tubes on your down spouts can direct water across a gradually sloping lawn, or to a rain garden (an intentionally devised low spot in your yard planted with natives that like periodic heavy water). Mulch beds at the lowest points in your yard can act as giant sponges to hold your yard’s rain water and release it slowly to the surrounding plants and trees.

See: Back to Eden — Our Heavy-Mulched Gardens

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment.

New mulch will conceal this tube, which directs rain water to the shrubs and lawn. Found stones and bricks direct rain water along a path to the rain garden. Mulch covers it up, and helps retain the water.

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment.

A retaining wall made of reused railroad ties holds in place a mulched planting area for natives. Placed at our lawn’s lowest point, the mulch helps keep rain water on our property.

See: Native Plants for Pollinators

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment.

Does your driveway need replacing? Consider a driveway of permeable pavers or crushed stone, which reduce runoff by absorbing some of the rain water. Our home’s original driveway was crumbling, and way too steep. We got some help and replaced it with crushed stone and steps of reused railroad ties.

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment.

Reuse It

As you make your yard more eco-friendly, remember to look carefully at your resources for things that can be put to new uses. Old bricks, pavers or stones can form a low retaining wall around your mulch. Lumber can be repurposed for raised beds. By not purchasing new materials you reduce the amount of raw materials pulled from our environment.

You may also enjoy  To Dig or Not to Dig: Double Digging

See: Low Cost & No Cost Trellises

Start Where You Are

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment and teaches you something. Remember too that you are not alone. As more and more people make their yard once more a living part of their eco-system, together we just might save the world’s environment.

Further Reading

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, by Douglas W. Tallamy
The Landscaping Revolution: Garden with Mother Nature, Not Against Her, by Andy Wasowski with Sally Wasowski
Landscaping with Native Trees: The Northeast, Midwest, Midsouth & Southeast Edition, by Guy Sternberg & Jim Wilson
Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards, by Sara Stein

Making your yard eco-friendly is a process, not an all-or-nothing imperative. Every improvement brings a benefit to the environment.

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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About Jessica Lane

I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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Creating an Eco-Friendly Yard & Garden {Part 2} — 1 Comment

  1. Great article but I would like to point out that railway ties are usually full of chemicals, from the preservatives they are treated with to prevent rotting and fire to whatever the trains might happen to leak on them. It might be something to look into before using them.

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