By Piper Kerrigan
Spring is the time when people put the most effort into their yard, but it doesn’t have to be the only time you take care of your outdoor living spaces. If you’ve been looking for ways to make your backyard more environmentally sustainable, here are some tips for strategies that you can implement now, or year-round.
Replace Your Grass
By now, most of us know that grass is not environmentally friendly. It needs frequent watering and trimming, which uses a lot of resources, including in most cases, gas and oil in lawnmowers. Did you know you can quickly kill your grass by covering it with dark plastic or newspaper for several weeks? This deprives it of the oxygen, light, and water it requires to survive. Of course, a dead lawn is not a popular landscaping choice, but killing your resource-sucking lawn is only the first step. While you have the plastic on your grass, get to work planning your new sustainable landscape.
If you live in an area that experiences drought conditions, you’ll want to choose landscaping media that doesn’t require a lot of water. This might include xeriscaping items like rocks and barks. But you’re not limited to non-greenery! Find plants that thrive natively in your area and incorporate them into your landscaping.
It’s also important to think about the output of your landscape. Gardens require water just like lawns, but they provide food in exchange. It’s not bad to use natural resources to grow plants, just think about what those plants are providing the planet in exchange.
Know When to Trim and When to Leave Alone
If you’re meticulous about your landscaping, you may be tempted to prune all the time, especially at the end of fall before winter sets in. But certain plants live healthier lifespans when left alone, or only trimmed at certain times. But for trees, the best time to prune is during winter, when they are dormant and sap production halts. Look up the best pruning times and methods for your specific plant life.
Nurture Native Nature
Exotic plants are popular because they’re often pretty and bring a sense of excitement to a landscape. But exotic plants can quickly spread and takeover, strangling native plants. In Idaho, the popular ornamental Japanese Yew has caused the death of countless deer, elk, and other wildlife. Choose plants that nurture your native wildlife rather than harm it.
You can help native wildlife by providing sources of water. Adding a pond or other water feature to your landscaping provides a refuge for birds, frogs, and other small animals. It also provides a water source for any native plants you choose that do require more water than your area receives naturally.
By being intentional with your landscaping, you can save a lot of time, energy, and natural resources. Do you have eco-friendly landscaping tips? Share in the comments!
Piper Kerrigan is a baker, party planner, and DIY extraordinaire from the Pacific Northwest. The only thing she loves more than a glass of good wine is snuggling her cat, Sebastian.