With all the talk about the environment, it can be daunting to think that you could have any effect on such a large problem. But as our grandparents used to say in the Depression-era, “Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” There are many simple steps you can take right in your own backyard to do your part for nature.
Think Hard About Your Lawn
Although a lush green lawn has been the pride of homeowners for many years, it evolved as a sign of conspicuous consumption (to own land that wasn’t grazed or cultivated) and remains so today. Of course, you don’t need to raise chickens on it! But your lawn likely costs you a lot: you probably water it, fertilize it, and mow it weekly with a gas-powered mower. You might even spray weed-killer or pesticides on it. That’s a lot of time, money, and energy put into one little plot of land.
Instead, consider alternative solutions. There is xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that involves putting down rocks and gravel and a few plants that require little water. You can turn your lawn into a garden or orchard to feed your family and share with your neighbors. Or, you can simply plant it with low-maintenance perennials, trees and shrubs so that you spend the minimal time on yard work. Lawns, attractive as they are, are one of the most high-maintenance yard installations.
Though we get a lot of rain in Virginia, most people see it as a nuisance. You likely water your plants fairly regularly, but in most cases, plants could be self-maintaining. The trick is to get the water to stick around.
Most homes make sure water slopes away from them, and for good reason. But with a rain garden, you can capture much of that precious rain before it pours into the storm drains. The rain garden will create a reservoir of water in your soil that your whole yard will benefit from.
You can also set up rain barrels to capture the runoff from your gutter. If you install drip irrigation hoses from them you can ensure that you water with the deep soaking that is best for plants.
“Green” landscaping is not difficult or expensive. In fact, many of these solutions are “install and forget it” fixes. Try it for yourself and see!