The following are some suggestions to create an eco-friendly landscape. Incorporating a few of these ideas will help you save energy and water, and also reduce environmental contamination.
Everyone knows that trees are green, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
Planting a few strategically planted trees can help to cool off a building and reduce the amount of energy allocated to air conditioning.
Planting deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves in the fall) is a great way to cool your home and reduce your air conditioning costs during the summer. When these trees drop their leaves, they also allow sunlight to warm a home or building during the winter. To maximize the benefits of deciduous trees, plant tall trees on the east and west-facing sides of your house.
This will help shade your home during the hottest months of the summer. Planting trees on the south facing side of your home can help shade the roof, as the sun will not hit that side of the house much during the summer. Make sure to prune trees so that at least a few branches are shading the roof and the air conditioning unit. This adds up to additional energy savings.
Evergreen trees are very useful if you want to create a natural windbreak to reduce those chilly winds that hit your home during the winter. It’s common to plant trees for windbreaks on the north and west sides of a home. However, you will need to determine the dominant wind direction for your area and plant upwind.
Trees should also be planted to shade paved areas. Light energy striking dark pavement like asphalt is absorbed, causing the air above to be heated. Light colored pavement absorbs less energy, but can reflect it toward a building. Tree leaves reduce heat and reflection as they absorb light energy and use it to evaporate water.
Shrubs and ground covers can also help improve the energy-efficiency of your landscape as well. Planting shrubs, bushes, and vines next to your home creates a dead air space that insulates your home both winter and summer. Groundcover plants will shade the soil and pavement around your home, reducing radiation and cooling air before it reaches your home.
Composting occurs in nature and is a process that keeps organic nutrients cycling from soil to plants and back to the soil. You can use organic waste from your home to return needed nutrients to the soil. Things like fruit peels, grass clipping, leaves, etc. are great materials to recycle and mix into garden soil. Composting has many benefits, including: (1) Reducing municipal waste, (2) Improving soil moisture retention, (3) Boosting plants’ immune systems, and (4) Reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
Use organic products in your yard
The average homeowner may use dozens of potentially harmful chemicals in the garden to treat pests and diseases and to fertilize plants. However, there is a growing awareness that many of the chemicals we use in our yards over the long run may negatively affect the health of our loved ones, pets, and neighbors. Additionally, these chemicals can degrade the environment and generally do nothing to contribute to the overall health of our plants.
However, you can have big impacts on the environment and the health of your family and neighbors by using even just a few organic gardening techniques at home. Once you start using organic gardening techniques, you may find that they are actually easier and more effective than you ever imagined.
If you even take just a few of these basic steps to reduce your use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, you’ll be making a significant impact on your health and on the environment and creating a healthier environment for your family and pets.
Some benefits of eco-friendly landscaping:
- Safety, for humans, animals, insects and the planet
- Better Health, for humans, animals, the lawns and the planet
- Water Conservation & Preservation, since water does not often become contaminated in organic systems, which also require less water than synthetic programs
- Soil Health & Sustainability, since organics build organic matter and life within the soil
- Pest Reduction, since insects tend to be more attracted to out-of-balance synthetic systems
- Resource Conservation, since synthetic fertilizers are derived from fossil fuels and organic systems encourage recycling, and because organic systems emphasize less mowing
- Financial Savings through time, since organic systems become more independent as the soil is improved
- Environmental Preservation, including a reduction in greenhouse gases and global warming
- Noise Reduction from decreased reliance on power equipment
- Environmental Awareness from the organic practitioners, who don’t rely on “four-step plans” and instead tend to become stewards of the land.
Use a smart controller on your irrigation system
Weather or sensor-based irrigation control technology uses local weather and landscape conditions to tailor irrigation schedules to actual conditions on the site or historical weather data.
Instead of irrigating according to a preset schedule, advanced irrigation controllers allow irrigation to more closely match the water requirements of plants. These new control technologies offer significant potential to improve irrigation practices in homes, businesses, parks, and schools across the United States.
Drought tolerant landscaping
Residents in many counties throughout Georgia are currently facing restrictions or bans on outdoor water use. When watering restrictions are imposed, here are a number of things homeowners can do to help their existing plants make the best use of water in the landscape.
Make certain plants have a generous supply of mulch over their roots. Three to five inches of mulch will help hold moisture in the soil and will prevent evaporation from the soil surface. Fine-textured mulches, such as pine straw, mini-nuggets and shredded hardwood mulch do a better job of conserving moisture than coarse-textured mulch. Apply mulch to as large an area as possible under the plant, remembering that the roots of established woody ornamentals extend two to three times the canopy spread.
Avoid practices that encourage new water-demanding growth. Fertilization is not wise during extended dry periods because fertilizers are chemically salts and can actually dehydrate the roots of plants. Routine pruning also stimulates new growth and should be avoided during dry periods.
When you water, use directional watering with the hand-held hose to apply water only to those plants that show signs of wilt will help conserve water. Priority should be given to newly planted trees and shrubs (those installed within the past four months). The water restrictions do not apply to new installations, and you may water more frequently up to sixty days after your new plants are installed.
We would like to make clear that though these plants are drought resistant in the long run, during their first month or two they will still need constant watering until their roots become established. But after that time, they will be more drought-tolerant than other plants.