An attractive, well-maintained yard contributes to a beautiful home and neighborhood.
Consider these tips for achieving a green, healthy lawn and garden while saving money and respecting the environment. If you use a lawn-care or landscaping company, choose one that abides by these practices.
1. Aerating and Fertilizing
Aerate your soil and rake out thatch – dead materials at the base of grass – to minimize the need for fertilizers and pest control.
Lawn fertilizers are an often overlooked aspect of keeping a green and healthy lawn. You don’t need to fertilize too often, but it is important to do it at least a few times a year—and remember, not all fertilizers are created equal (different kinds work better depending on your soil type.)
Only water when the soil is dry, and do so early in the morning to minimize evaporation. Don’t overwater. Encourage deep root growth by watering deeply and infrequently. Invest in an inexpensive lawn moisture meter (available at local garden stores) to gauge your lawn’s water needs. If using sprinklers, apply about a ½ inch of water twice per week. To know how long it takes to apply that much water, set out empty tuna cans to measure it and determine the time needed to apply a good thorough watering. It could take between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the type of sprinkler you use.
If you plan to install or upgrade a sprinkler system, consider a "smart" system that dynamically adjusts the amount and frequency of watering based on local weather conditions.
Capture rainwater for use in your garden by placing rain barrels under your gutter downspouts. Don’t hose down your driveway and sidewalks; this wastes water and can put chemical run-off into our waterways.
Mow high (3 to 4 inches) to retain moisture and make more shade, which helps keep out weeds. Leave your grass clippings as a natural fertilizer and to reduce yard waste.
Consider a push mower (great exercise) or plug-in electric model in place of an air- and noise-pollution-making gas mower. Keep your mower blades sharp.
Remove weeds by hand and re-seed bare spots. Choose appropriate grasses for your soil and sun conditions.
4. Pest Control
Avoid exposing your family, pets, and neighbors to toxic chemical pesticides that also run off into waterways, kill beneficial insects and harm wildlife.
Instead, identify pests and use biological pesticides specific to those pests. Visit the Resources page of the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns (www.beyondpesticides.org) for more information.
Several types of plants and beneficial insects can be used to control common garden pests. For example, marigolds can protect against beetles, and ladybugs eat plant-eating aphids. Attract insect-eating birds with a bird-friendly backyard habitat that includes native plants.
Choose native plants, flowers and grasses that are suited to local soil, water and weather conditions. These will save water, reduce pests, and generally require less care.
Look for succulents and drought-resistant plants. Also consider lower-maintenance alternatives to grass, such as myrtle, pachysandra, ferns and moss.
Make your own nutrient-rich lawn and garden fertilizer by composting your leaves, other yard debris and kitchen scraps. Compost returns organic matter to the soil and slowly releases the nutrients plants need. It is an excellent alternative to hazardous lawn and garden chemicals that weaken grass and plants in the long run.
Located in Wilmington