The first signs of spring leaves many of us itching to get into the garden or prepare outdoor spaces for the luscious lazy summer months. As the world around us literally turns green, it’s a great time to try living a little greener too.
Here are a few ideas including newer products and services that can save money, promote a healthy lifestyle, and are good for the planet:
Integrate native plants into your gardens.
You can easily mix and match native plants in with your traditional gardens or even I your container plantings. Plants native to our region, were here before we were. So they grow easily with rain water, no fertilizers or pesticides. They also provide critical habitat for creatures great and small. The non-profit group Wild Ones offers demonstration projects and workshops of how and where to plant natives. You can also buy flats of natives that appeal to a particular butterfly or cute critter. Landscape Alternatives sells a terrific selection of native plants retail.
Use manure or compost as your garden base.
Healthy soil with the critical microbes and bacteria makes for healthy plants. Bovine Basics produces a “cooked” dairy cow manure with the smelly and harmful bacteria removed for use as a compost or peat moss. Laverne’s Worms sells a worm bin for home or office use. Worms can eat a pound or two of kitchen scraps each week! That means less in your garbage and less in the landfill. The nutrient rich dirt that worms poop out is amazing for houseplants and your garden. It’s also a good green teaching tool for the kids teaching them that “waste = food” in natural systems.
Reduce your use of chemical fertilizers.
This is becoming more common place with lawns and vegetable gardens, but what about tree care. Rainbow Tree Care has concocted a “prescription organic material” for trees that is specifically formulated for your tree’s age, condition and health issue. Instead of pumping the root system full of synthetic chemicals, they carefully blow the compacted soil away from the surface roots replacing it with their prescription concoction. It fixes the problem at the root in a non-invasive and natural way.
Reduce your runoff.
We all have hard surfaces on and around our homes: blacktop driveways, cement sidewalks and roofs. Water pours off of these surfaces and goes into the nearest storm sewer, each time it rains or snow melts. This runoff can carry pollutants like oil from our drives or chemicals from our lawns to the nearest river, lake or pond. Borgert Products sells interlocking permeable paver systems so that the water seeps into the ground around the pavers and doesn’t runoff. Their systems can be used for walks or drives. They are winter plow friendly and help to recharge ground water.
Start your own backyard Farm.
In the city, our soil is highly compacted and contains arsenic and lead from polluting car exhaust so it isn’t ideal farmland. A very cool company, A Backyard Farm is solving that problem with raised beds for vegetable gardens. They design and make the wood framed beds, fill it with good organic material and sell you the plants that go into the garden. For a reasonable weekly fee, they will also tend, weed and harvest your garden, if you don’t have the time or interest. So for about the same cost as buying a share in a CSA, you can have your own farm and farmer! How cool is that??
Use moss to reduce dangerous chemicals in your pool or spa.
Creative Water Solutions has come out with a line of pool filters that use sphagnum moss to help control bacteria growth called Spa and Pool Naturally products. Using their filter systems, they promise that you will use less chemicals less often thereby reducing costs and creating a less toxic swimming and spa environment. It’s better for your skin, lungs and your pocketbook.