To have a truly green yard you will have to follow environmentally friendly practices. Too many of us are only thinking of the end result and how to get there quickly and with little effort. Therefore we use chemical fertilizers, sprays, weed killers, etc. that not only do harm to the planet but may present unnecessary risks to children and pets.
Here are a few green tips for a healthy yard that is green, easy and economical.
- Conserve water by not setting an automatic sprinkler, they go off even when it’s raining. If you shred your personal documents, instead of putting them in the recycle bin, put them in the sink or a pail and fill it with water. After a few hours, it will have turned to mush and you can squeeze them out with your hands. If you have extra soil or mulch mix them in and spread them on your lawn or garden. In the garden or flower bed, you can just mix them into the soil, being careful not to damage the plant roots. This will keep the soil light and promote better plant growth as it disintegrates and allows any moisture to soak down to the roots. It also safely gets rid of personal information that can lead to identity fraud.
- To help control weeds spread and overlap wet newspapers over the soil after the garden is harvested; flowers have been killed by a frost, or in the spring when planting seeds, and sprinkle the wet paper with a thin layer of soil, compost or mulch to keep it in place. If you choose a day when it looks like rain you can just sit and wait, otherwise you may need to water it lightly to help start the process of disintegration. This method works as good as weed fabric and will retard the growth of weeds without leaving pieces of fabric behind. If you do see a few weeds, dig them up before they flower or get a chance to spread.
- Use compost for fertilizer. If you have a large yard a commercial compost bin or large pile is a good idea, but if your yard is small you may want to try a more simple method. Find a container remembering that plastic absorbs odors and line it with newspapers, and find a convenient spot outdoors that is not too close to the house. Then add a layer of twigs, leaves, etc. If it is a large barrel place it into the ground on a level area with good drainage and it is ready for you to add your scraps of fruits, vegetables, peeling, etc. With every addition of compost, it is a good idea to add a little soil or dead leaves. When you rake your yard in the fall you may find in handy leave a pile of leaves beside your compost bin. If just using a smaller pail you may want to leave a bag of dirt (Soil from dead potted plants is ideal) and another with some leaves and plant clippings in it. Keep the mix moist and stir or poke holes in it frequently. After a few months, you will be able to strain some of it through an old colander or large sieve, throwing the larger pieces back into the bin. This makes a good fertilizer for plants and lawn alike. A little bit of shredded paper may also be added from time to time.
- Regular lawn maintenance should include mowing the lawn with sharp blades when the lawn is dry if it is a small yard use a push mower, removing only 1/3 of the blades. These can be left on the lawn as they will sink through the lawn and decompose on the soil. Water only when needed and do it in the evening or early morning when it is cooler. If you see thin or bare patches sprinkle the area with fresh grass seed. A thick lawn retards weed growth and needs less water.