Sustainability

Soil and Water Conservation

Cultivate Healthy Soil

You don’t need to use chemical fertilizers to have a thriving garden. Creating garden beds and landscapes that have active underground ecosystem of earthworms and microorganisms that keep plants healthy can be achieved using composted soil with organic materials that include micronutrients and minerals. Applying compost also provides an aerated, non-compacted base for plant roots to thrive and  to absorb water and nutrients, which is key in ensuring plant health. Healthy plants mean better wildlife habitat.

Compost, photo by Normanack Flickr

Practice Water Conservation

Conventional lawns and many ornamental exotic plants require an exorbitant amount of clean water to stay green. Choosing native plants that are adapted to regional rainfall and soil moisture content is a great way to conserve this precious resource. You can also collect water in rain barrels for use in the garden.

In suburban and urban areas, much of the water that hits the landscape washes away down the storm drains, often carrying pollutants and soil with it. Reducing your lawn in favor of densely planted garden beds helps minimize runoff, and you can plant a rain garden specifically designed to collect and absorb rainwater to keep if from pouring into storm drains.

Water is a precious commodity. Humans extract it from the ground and as a result, the water table may drop, damaging habitats miles away. We divert water from rivers and lakes which reduces flow rate, possibly impacting fish, herons, otters, mussels, and thousands of other kinds of wildlife.

Ways to Conserve Water in Your Garden:

  • Mulch planting beds with newspaper, leaves, bark, or wood chips. Mulches retain soil moisture and improve soil quality.

  • Water your plantings with a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system. Less water evaporates this way than with a sprinkler, and you target your watering.

  • Use a timing device with any watering system.

  • Use "wasted" water for your plants. A rain barrel or cistern that captures rainfall from your roof is a great garden reservoir. In some areas, gray water - water from bathing or washing clothes - can legally be diverted to garden use.