Plan a yard and garden that’s good for you and the earth with these easy landscaping tips from our gardening expert.
By Melinda Myers
It’s possible to create a beautiful landscape and be kind to the environment. “All it takes is a bit of planning and a few low-maintenance strategies,” says gardening expert and author Melinda Myers.
Myers recommends these five steps to create a low-fuss, eco-friendly landscape while saving time and money.
Be waterwise. By watering your landscape wisely, you can conserve a precious resource and save money on your water bill. It’s also beneficial to grow drought tolerant plants suited to your environment. Once established, they will only need watering during long dry spells.
Mulch with shredded leaves, evergreen needles, woodchips or other organic matter to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and add nutrients to the soil. Use rain barrels to harvest rainwater as it falls from the sky or flows off your roof through downspouts.
Use low-nitrogen fertilizer. Such fertilizers promote slow, steady growth instead of excessive greenery that requires more water. Plus they won’t cause fertilizer burn even during drought.
Manage yard waste. Reduce the amount of yard waste produced, reuse what can be in other areas of the landscape, and recycle the rest as compost. This will save you time bagging, hauling, and disposing of yard debris.
Start by leaving grass clippings on the lawn. The short clippings break down quickly, adding organic matter, nutrients and moisture to the soil. Plant trees suited to the growing conditions and available space. That means less pruning and fewer trimmings.
Recycle yard waste into compost. Put plant waste into a heap and let it rot. Do not add insect-infested or diseased plant material or perennial weeds like quack grass, annual weeds gone to seed, or invasive plants. And do not add meat, dairy, or bones that can attract rodents.
Go “green” with pest control. A healthy plant is the best defense against insects and disease. Select the most pest-resistant plants suited to the growing conditions and provide proper care.
Check plants regularly throughout the growing season. It is easier to control a few insects than the hundreds that can develop in a week or two. And when problems arise, look for the most eco-friendly control. Start by removing small infestations by hand. Consider traps, barriers, and natural products if further control is needed. As always, be sure to read and follow label directions.
Try energy-wise landscape design. Use plantings to keep homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and reduce energy costs.
Plant trees on the east and west side of a house to shade windows in the summer, and let the sun shine in and warm it up through the south-facing windows in winter. Shade air conditioners, so they run more efficiently and collect and use any water they produce for container gardens.
About our Guest Expert: Melinda Myers is a nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist. She is a contributing editor to Birds & Blooms magazine and other publications, and maintains melindamyers.com.