Earth Day is April 22 and we’re celebrating our planet by offering you a few eco-friendly ideas, tips, and tricks that will not only save you money but will also help save our planet. These are great practices all-around, so even when we’re not celebrating Earth Day, feel free to give them a go and see what you think!.
As our planet changes and our summers get dryer, practicing the eons-old idea of xeriscaping is one way to have beautiful plants without using a ton of water. The basis for xeriscaping is to survive drought. Start by placing plants with similar irrigation needs together for efficiency- ideally, these should be native plants that are already used to adapting to the region’s changes in weather. Some drought-tolerant plant ideas for MN are ornamental grasses like Karl Foerster or Feather Reed Grass- which has the added bonus of being deer resistant. Many of the native ornamental grasses are inexpensive to maintain, environmentally friendly, and also great for adding dimension to your plant beds due to their height.
Sprinkler Systems and Drip Irrigation
Rather than using a hose, a more controlled way to water is by way of a time-controlled sprinkler system. This saves you time and energy, and covers a greater area with less water. Get the kids out to play around in the sprinklers and you’re really getting more bang for your buck! Using a root-targeting drip irrigation system in your flower beds is another water-saving strategy. This will give you more time to enjoy your patio and less time spent on the upkeep of your lawn and planters!
Composting reduces our garbage production, provides free fertilizer, and thankfully is one of the most popular backyard recycling trends. Compost bins are for sale at nearly every garden or hardware store but you can also forgo the bin and use an area of your yard that is partly sunny. Your compost will be comprised of household garden waste like eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie peels, as well as weeds that you’ve pulled from your flower beds. If you work from home and accumulate a lot of scrap paper, shred it up and add it to the mix along with newspapers, wood shavings, and most any other organic material that might be taking up space. In 6-9 months you will have nutritious compost ready for use in your garden.
Mulch keeps root systems cool, prevents weeds from spreading, creates striking pathways, and retains moisture. It is essentially a landscaping all-star! Once applied, it decomposes and feeds your soil, so set it and forget it. If you’re the DIY type, you can actually make your own mulch from bark (if you’ve done some tree maintenance you may have access to this) or coconut fibers… pina colada anyone!?
Mow Less Frequently
Recently, you may have been hearing “No Mow May” murmurings. This resource-saving concept, which originated in the UK, really took off in Appleton, WI, and has been gaining popularity all around the United States. Citizens are singing its praises for water conservation and pollinator protection, and the movement is spreading. The idea is that for the entire month of May you let your lawn become lush with native weeds and grasses and allow pollinators to come in and do their thing. Read more about the initiative here. Not everyone is in support of this, however. Some see it as unsightly and want their lawns to be a showpiece for every month of our short Minnesota summers. Wherever you stand on this subject, keeping your lawn longer is truly better for its health because it will retain more water. When you mow, don’t forget to save the clippings for your compost!