Green gardening: a quick guide

Six Ways to Save Energy and Reduce Your Yard’s Carbon Footprint

Want to save energy and reduce your backyard’s carbon footprint too? Here are six steps you can take:

1. Reduce the size of your lawn. Better yet, consider eliminating it entirely. Families with young children require only a small area of lawn where the kids can play. Everyone else can manage without turf by creating patios for living space, enlarging planting beds or installing a rock garden.

    Tip: Consider replacing your lawn with a native wildflower meadow. This will provide habitat for wildlife and requires no watering after its young plants are established. Since introducing plants to your property that are not indigenous to your region can contribute to ecological problems, ask your local native plant society which species are appropriate to cultivate.

2. Use hand tools instead of power equipment. When you reduce the size of your lawn, for example, you’ll only need a push mower.

3. Choose materials with low-embodied energy. Brick and concrete have large carbon footprints compared to gravel and especially wood. Used brick and other recycled materials are good choices, too.

4. Emphasize woody plants that capture more carbon than fleshy herbaceous species. Create a flower meadow or vegetable patch, but plant most of your property with low-maintenance native trees and shrubs, preferably those that also provide food and nesting and resting places for birds and other wildlife. Again, choose species native to your region.

5. Plant trees and shrubs where they will block winter winds and provide shade in summer. This will reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool your home and thus reduce your carbon footprint even further. The particular landscape strategy depends on your climate.

    Tip: For more details, see “Landscaping for Energy Efficiency,” a booklet produced for the U.S. Department of Energy and available online at www.eere.energy.gov.

6. Minimize, or better yet eliminate, the use of fertilizers and pesticides on your property. Use compost and mulch produced from garden trimmings to enrich your soil instead, and use native plants that are naturally pest resistant.

From NWF.

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