Sustainable Gardening

Sustainable Gardening

Sustainable Gardening

Ecological gardening is on the rise. More gardeners are growing vegetables, fruits and herbs organically. People are trying to use less harmful pesticides on their lawns, and there’s an increasing awareness of the role invasive plants, water conservation, and energy consumption play in the garden and our environment. Sustainable gardening practices are making it easier for home gardeners to grow edibles, trees, shrubs, flowers and lawns effectively while reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While there are many new products on the market to help gardeners grow plants more ecologically, many of the sustainable gardening practices are about following common sense. Here are some practices to try in your garden:

Grow a Diversity of Plants—Growing a wide variety of plants in your yard will create a more balanced ecosystem and make your yard less likely to be devastated by insects and diseases. Grow a variety of vegetables, flowers, and herbs in your annual gardens. Mix perennial flowers in with trees and shrubs. Grow native plants and varieties that are more adapted to the vagaries of your local weather and pests.

Build the Soil—The soul of your garden is the soil. If it’s healthy and thriving, you’ll have less pests and diseases to contend with and little need to spray your garden. Build the soil by adding a 1- to 2-inch thick layer of compost every year working it into the soil before planting. You can make your own compost from yard and garden scraps using the Lifetime Composter.

Mulch, Mulch, and Mulch Some More—Mulch is one of a gardener’s best friends. Mulch your trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and vegetable gardens with organic mulch. Organic mulches, such as straw, hay, pine straw, chopped leaves, and grass clippings from pesticide-free lawns, keep the soil cool and moist, helping conserve water. They build the soil’s fertility as they decompose and also prevent weed growth so you spend less timing weeding and more time enjoying the garden. Adding a 2- to 4-inch thick layer of organic mulch is usually good in most situations. 

Keep the Lawn Healthy—If your lawn is healthy it’s less likely to have weed and fertility problems.  Keeping it healthy has more to do with caring for the soil and less about fertilizers and pesticides. Aerate and dethatch the lawn in spring and mow the grass high so weeds are less likely to take hold. If you have specific weed problems look for organic herbicide options. For example, corn gluten meal can be used to control crabgrass. If you’re only going to fertilize once a season, do so in fall with a 3-1-2 ratio organic fertilizer. This will help feed the grass roots and not just the shoots. Top dress the lawn with a light layer of compost and overseed bare patches in the Fall, as well.

These simple tips will keep your lawn and garden healthy and productive, while growing your plants in a sustainable manner.


charlys huerta

4/8/2010 12:26:33 PM

I would be interested in seeing an article from you about landscaping alternatives to grass. I live in northern Utah where it reaches triple digits during the summer and it's impossible to keep the grass green without wasting A LOT of water.

However, I would rather not use gravel because that would be difficult to remove if I wanted to change things up down the road.

Any tips you have on simple designs, easy implementation, and hardy drought resistant ground cover would be appreciated.


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