Your green home doesn’t stop at your front door. Your yard definitely accounts for a significant part of your environmental footprint. For example, were you aware that almost one-third of the typical American family’s water use occurs outdoors?
Some people assume that eco-friendly upgrades are invariably costly. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially where your yard is concerned. There are plenty of easy, budget-friendly alternatives that will “green” your landscape in more ways than one.
Here are a few:
- Plant a garden. Turf is one of the most energy- and water-intensive plants you can grow in your yard. Why not replace some or all of your turfgrass with a beautiful garden? Doubtless the most economical type of garden to consider is a vegetable garden. For just a few dollars of investment and a few enjoyable hours of time outdoors each week, your veggie garden can pay you back with loads of tasty, nutritious, local produce guaranteed to create a dent in your grocery bill and a sensation on your table. Or, plant drought-resistant, low-maintenance flowers to conserve water — and add a splash of color to your yard. They will likely attract birds and beneficial insects as well.
- Compost. A compost bin is the natural companion to your garden. Compost is beneficial for the environment for a number of reasons. It improves your soil texture, allowing it to retain more water. This helps prevent runoff and excessive water use. It improves soil fertility as well. Composting food waste also conserves landfill space and reduces the amount of energy used to treat solid waste. There are many types of compost bins available commercially that are suitable for backyard use. Or, make your own compost bin with repurposed materials. You can even try trench composting to recycle your food scraps without all the hassle of making a bin to store the compost in.
- Install a rain barrel. Rainwater is an ideal irrigation solution because it does not contain dissolved minerals that can negatively affect soil and plant health. Using rainwater can also reduce your water bill during irrigation season. In addition, a rain barrel can be an important tool for reducing runoff from your property, which protects surface water quality in your watershed. Check with your municipality to see if they offer incentives for rain barrel installation — many do.
- Plant trees. In addition to being more water-friendly than a lawn, trees have a cooling effect on the environment due to shading and evapotranspiration. They are highly effective at reducing the urban heat island effect. Trees can also reduce your energy bills. Studies have shown that shade trees planted in a yard can cut cooling costs by up to 18 percent and heating costs by up to 8 percent (the latter due to wind protection). Shade trees can also keep the interior of your parked car up to 45 degrees cooler in the summer. You can increase the environmental benefits even more by planting native trees, which require little irrigation and provide habitat for native wildlife.
- Use mulch. Mulching your garden and landscape plants is a great way to use water wisely. Mulch reduces soil evaporation and can reduce your need to irrigate by up to 50 percent. It also reduces herbicide use by controlling weeds, and can help control soil erosion and runoff. There are many types of mulch available. One of the most sustainable and budget-friendly options is recycled rubber mulch made from old tires — one of several kinds of rubber landscaping materials available on the market today. It is non-toxic, comes in a variety of attractive colors, and typically lasts 10 years or more (unlike many other types of mulch that must be replenished annually).
This is just a small sampling of affordable, eco-friendly landscaping ideas you can implement in your backyard. Why not upgrade your landscape this season and enjoy the benefits of reduced utility bills, aesthetic beauty and healthful garden produce for years to come?
Author bio: Penny Klein, owner of Perfect Rubber Mulch, has extensive experience in the industry and understands the best product fit for her clients’ needs. She works with customers to guarantee the right amount of product is purchased, and makes certain the delivery process is best in class.
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