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8 Steps to an Environmentally-Friendly Garden

An Organic Garden and Lawn with Mulch, Compost, Reduced Water Use

© 2011 by Alan Bridge all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

An organic green grass lawn, photo courtesy Alan Bridge

An organic green grass lawn, photo courtesy Alan Bridge

This article was last updated on 02/05/21.

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It’s very easy to go green (pun intended) in your garden. A few basic changes, even made incrementally, can stop your garden being a drain on the environment and help it support your local eco-system. From mulching and composting to using tools such as Ryobi electric mowers, here are some simple steps you can implement right away.

  1. Composting!

    Composting is simple and very beneficial. You can compost kitchen waste (not animal products), garden clippings, and other garden waste, including leaves. This compost can become a natural food for your plants and will enrich your soil. It also reduces the amount of waste you are sending to a landfill. And consider; you will be saving money!

  2. Use Organic Pesticides, Herbicides and Fertilizers

    Gardeners can and should resist the urge to use chemicals to kill pests and unwanted plants and to help their other plants grow faster and stronger and increase vegetable and fruit yields at the same time.

    These chemicals are not at all natural and do harm the natural balance in the ecosystem. For example, only about 3% of the bugs in your garden are pests, but pesticides will kill 99% of the bugs, including beneficial insects, that come into contact with it. It will decimate earthworms as well and then your soil will have to be aerated by hand. That's a lot of work.

    Monsanto understandably gets a bad rap on a regular basis. According to the, “The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is the most common weed killer in the world and is used by farmers on row crops and by home gardeners.” goes on to say, “Previous research has shown that Roundup is toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications.”

    According to Monsanto has refuted claims about the dangers of glyphosate. They tell us, “Monsanto disclosed that it paid Intertek Group Plc’s consulting unit to develop the review supplement, entitled An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate. But that was the extent of Monsanto’s involvement, the main article said. ‘The Expert Panelists were engaged by, and acted as consultants to, Intertek, and were not directly contacted by the Monsanto Company,’ according to the review’s Declaration of Interest statement.”

    Bloomberg goes on to say, “Monsanto’s internal emails tell a different story. The correspondence shows the company’s chief of regulatory science, William Heydens, and other Monsanto scientists were heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts.”

    If you do need to use some additives in your garden try to use organic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that will be on sale in your local garden center. There are other ways to improve the quality of your soil. Tossing out some agricultural-grade dried molasses works wonders. It works at the micro-biological level to keep your soil healthy.
  3. Use an Electric Mower

    Gasoline mowers are not environmentally friendly. Their engines are highly inefficient and they release a lot of greenhouse gases. They also burn gasoline, which is an expensive resource as well as being harmful to the environment.

    Finally, gasoline mowers create a lot of noise pollution. Many people will use manual reel mowers and if you can, you should. Mind you, this machine is for Bermuda grass, not St. Augustine. If this is not possible you should use an electric mower. They are much quieter than gasoline mowers and do not produce any greenhouse gases.
  4. Add Mulch; Feed Your Soil

    It is also possible to buy an electric mower with a mulching blade and deck. Mulching the grass and other garden waste feeds your turf and helps to keep water in the ground. The mulch also provides nutrients for the soil so it removes the need for artificial fertilizers. Organics are still recommended.
  5. Reducing Your Water Usage

    Water is an incresingly scarce resource in many places. In these areas water conservation is a critical consideration and it is often gardeners that waste water in their gardens. Commercial farmers have less choice. Also, excess water can run off into rivers, lakes, and oceans and pollute them with artificial fertilizers and pesticides. It is a slow killer generally caused by corporate farmers.

    In order to reduce water usage you should choose plants that do not require a lot of water, especially if they are ornamentals. Certain species of plants require a lot more water than others, and these should be avoided where possible.

    If you do have to add water to your garden, try to water at night so less water evaporates and more of the water is absorbed by the soil. You could also consider rain-water harvesting in a barrel or tub so as not to be using the public supply. Depending on your situation a sprinkler system may be appropriate.
  6. Reduce Lawn Areas

    You should consider reducing the amount of your garden that is dedicated to a grass lawn. Lawns often require chemical additives and frequent maintenance. In contrast, bushes and trees require little maintenance and provide food, shelter, and cover for animals in the ecosystem. If you have a smaller lawn you can use an electric mower instead of a gasoline one. Anyway, everyone has a lawn -- be different and plant some nice shrubs and trees!
  7. Choose Native Plants

    Bees pollinate fruits and vegetables, photo courtesy Alan Bridge
    Bees pollinate fruits and vegetables, photo courtesy Alan Bridge
    When you are choosing plants for your garden try to choose plants that are native to your local area. They will suit the ecosystem of your local area and will not cause an imbalance. They are also easier to maintain as they suit your climate and local environment and won’t require a lot of additional water or fertilizer. In fact, this may be a requirement if you have an aggressive homeowners association.
  8. Grow Your Own Vegetables Whenever You Can

    The 8th and final idea in this article involves you growing some of your own vegetables in your garden. In this way you can ensure that they are organic because you will know that no artificial fertilizer has been used.

    You also reduce the carbon footprint of your meals, as the vegetables don’t have to be transported to you. Give it a try; vegetables you grow yourself will taste 100% better!

Do Your Bit For The Environment!

This article contains some simple ideas you can use to make your garden more environmentally-friendly. If you could implement even one of these ideas each year then you are doing your bit and you can sleep a bit easier at night!


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