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Garden in an Environmentally Friendly Way

How you maintain your garden or landscape can have important positive or negative effects on the health of the soil, air, water and vegetation that we all use! Here are some sustainable gardening techniques that you will help you conserve and protect our natural resources.

Mulching

Mulch helps keep water in the soil and available to the plant, rather than evaporating into the air. This can help reduce water consumption. As mulch breaks down, it provides nutrients to the soil, which can help reduce or eliminate the need for additional fertilizers. Be sure to use mulches that are from sustainable forestry practices (not Cypress tree mulch), and that are free from pests and diseases. Your cooperative extension office can help you find sources of mulch in your local community.

Reducing Lawn Areas

Grass lawns often require chemicals and frequent maintenance. Gas-powered lawnmowers produce high amounts of greenhouse gases, which contribute to the air pollution that causes global warming. Since lawns are often made of only a few types of plants that most animals do not consume, they do not provide a lot of value for wildlife. Replacing grass lawn with native wildflowers, bushes, and trees provides the food, shelter, and cover that help to maintain healthy, natural ecosystems and reduces your time and labor working on the lawn!

Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is an approach to landscaping that minimizes outdoor water use while maintaining soil integrity through the use of native, drought-tolerant plants. This is a common practice in drier areas, such as the West and Southwest, where water supplies and water quality are in very short supply.

Removing Invasives and Restoring Native Plant Communities

Native plants are better for the environment than exotic plants, generally requiring less fertilizer and other additives, less water, and less effort in pest control. They are especially important to native wildlife, such as pollinators, that may have coevolved with a particular species. Pollinators often rely on a certain type of flower as a source of food, while the flower depends on the pollinator to transport its pollen to other flowers for reproduction.

When non-native plants are used, they often times upset the delicate balance of a local ecosystem and sometimes even out-compete native species to the point of extinction. Wildlife benefit more when native plant communities remain intact, or are restored to their natural habitats, providing the best source of food for wildlife.

 

What sustainable gardening practices do I need to certify?

You should be doing two things to help manage your habitat in a sustainable way.
Soil and Water Conservation: Riparian Buffer • Capture Rain Water from Roof • Xeriscape (water-wise landscaping) • Drip or Soaker Hose for Irrigation • Limit Water Use • Reduce Erosion (i.e. ground cover, terraces) • Use Mulch • Rain Garden
Controlling Exotic Species: Practice Integrated Pest Management • Remove Non-Native Plants and Animals • Use Native Plants • Reduce Lawn Areas
Organic Practices: Eliminate Chemical Pesticides • Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers • Compost
 

NEXT STEP >> Certify Your Wildlife Garden

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