As we approach Earth Day, share ELA’s list of ecological steps with colleagues, friends, and family. Here are actions all of us can take to make our landscapes more earth friendly.
- Reduce the size of your lawn and replace with an alternative such as a low maintenance meadow, edible landscape, native plant garden, or native groundcover.
- Let your lawn “rest” during the heat of summer to reduce water consumption. The grass will green up again when cooler weather and the rains return.
- Replace your gas mower with an electric or reel mower. Read a consumer report on electric mowers for more information.
- Mow high and let clippings lie. With this strategy, you will use less energy and return nitrogen to the soil. Read this article on the environmental benefits of organic lawns for more tips.
Leaves and Soil
- Use a rake to tidy the yard and clean up leaves instead of using a leaf blower. Manually removing leaves improves local air quality and saves energy too!
- Recycle your leaves. Conserve resources by shredding leaves with your mower and returning them to your gardens. You’ll also save money, enrich the soil, and reduce energy consumption. Read more at Leave the Leaves.
- Too many leaves? Then create your own compost pile. Turn leaves, vegetable and fruit waste, and other plant material into compost, a valuable soil amendment.
- Next, feed your soil. Use your own compost or locate a local source of compost that is rich in organic matter. Healthy soil nurtures plants, aids water infiltration, and maximizes carbon storage.
Native Plants and Non-Native Invasive Plant Species
- Plant a tree, or several trees. Native trees planted in the right location can reduce your heating or cooling bills.
- Plant native groundcovers and deep-rooted, native grasses on steep slopes to prevent soil erosion and eliminate dangerous mowing locations.
- Welcome native plants into your gardens to provide a better food source for beneficial insects, birds, and animals.
- Learn how to identify locally invasive plants and safely remove them from your property, then replace them with native plant options. Non-native invasive species displace native plants, causing food shortages for native pollinators and other wildlife; reduce biodiversity; compete with native organisms for limited resources; and negatively alter habitats. Check these resources to learn more: U.S. Invasive Plants or Canadian Invasive Plants.
- Rain is a valuable resource! Capture rainwater in rain barrels or other rainwater harvesting systems for use during dry periods.
- Use permeable materials for a new driveway or parking areas to minimize runoff and recharge groundwater.
- Minimize or eliminate your use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers that damage ecosystems and contaminate water supplies. Learn about non-chemical alternatives. A bonus of native plants is that they require little or no fertilizer – only healthy soil.
- Create habitat for beneficial insects and birds by creating a meadow or other natural, wild areas. Don’t forget to provide a shallow water source for them to drink from.