11 Tips to Green your Lawn and Landscaping
By properly maintaining your lawn & landscaping, you cannot only save on your utility bills, but you can also save water and significantly reduce your family’s possible exposure to hazardous chemicals.
✔ Water wisely – If you need to water your lawn, consider the following tips:
- Try to water early in the morning. Watering early in the morning reduces the amount of water lost from evaporation.
- If you have automatic sprinklers, be sure that all the water is being absorbed and not simply running off.
- When watering, avoid paved surfaces.
- Be sure to check your irrigation system for leaks several times during the growing season.
- Install an evapotranspiration system to help regulate watering.
- Consider replacing your above ground irrigation system with a subsurface drip system. Subsurface drip systems can be up 90 to 100% efficient.
✔ Maintain your lawnmower and lawn equipment – Be sure to perform regular tune-ups (1 or 2 times during the season) of your lawnmower to ensure that it is running at its most efficient. When properly tuned, your lawnmower will use less gasoline and emit fewer pollutants.
✔ Don’t cut your grass too short – By keeping your lawn at around 2-3 inches, you will reduce the frequency you need to cut your grass, the roots will grow deeper and require less watering, and the added height will help keep the ground cooler, reducing evaporation rates.
✔ Let your grass go dormant – In arid to semiarid climates, many types of grass naturally begin to go dormant beginning in the middle of summer. By not watering your lawn, you will be adapting to the natural cycle of your grass, and you will significantly reduce water usage and the harmful effects of using your lawnmower.
✔ Use electric-powered lawn equipment – For their size, lawn maintenance equipment emits very high levels of toxic and greenhouse gases. In fact, in an hour of operation, your lawnmower produces over 10 times the amount air pollution of a car. Moving from 4 stoke to 2 stroke engines will also help reduce these negative effects.
✔ Avoid using weed-killers – It is best to pick weeds by hand instead of using polluting herbicides. Herbicides run off of your lawn and end up in streams and lakes, poisoning the natural habitat in those locations. Many weeds are also seasonal (i.e. dandelions), so if you can tolerate their presence for a couple months, they will disappear on their own.
✔ Create a backyard wildlife habitat – Whether you want to attract bluebirds or butterflies, chipmunks or chickadees, landscaping your yard to attract wildlife can be a fun family activity that can even help save endangered or threatened animals.
✔ Choose organic lawn and landscape services – Organic landscape and lawn services are springing up everywhere to meet the needs of homeowners who want healthy water, air, and soil along with a well-kept yard.
✔ Use eco-friendly landscaping materials – Natural or recycled landscape materials—for paths, islands, walkways, and retaining walls—can add uniquely beautiful and practical finishing touches to your landscape design.
✔ Practice xeriscaping – Originally developed for a desert climate, the principles of xeriscaping can be practiced anywhere—to save water and create an attractive, low-maintenance landscape. Plant drought-tolerant landscaping.
✔ Improve your home’s energy efficiency – A well-designed landscape can reduce the amount of energy used for home heating and air conditioning. As a rule, in Northern climates, let the southern sun hit your house. In Southern climates, shade your home from the southern sun.