It was former American President Jimmy Carter who once said that, “if we can teach our children how to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauty of the outdoors will be here forever.” Part of honoring the gifts nature provides to us is respecting our homes and yards by maintaining them through earth-friendly means.
Earth Friendly Lawn Care
Using products that help contribute to the destruction of our earth’s natural resources isn’t a very nice way to thank Mother Nature. But the way to an earth-friendly lawn isn’t limited to the gardening products we use. It also applies to how we use plants in our yard and how we take care of the trees and plants that are already there.
Even if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t experience frigid wintertime temperatures, you aren’t immune to some of the tips below. It’s best to check with your local nursery or gardening center for the best advice about yard maintenance for the climate zone in which you live. Meanwhile, here are some tips for those who experience the stereotypical weather associated with all four seasons throughout the year.
- Plant with autumn in mind. The end of summer most often signals the end of the colorful blooms on our annuals as well. This doesn’t mean you have to forego flowers in cooler months, though! Perennial flowers like chrysanthemums and Rose of Sharon bushes add bursts of color to your yard year after year.
- Take plants indoors. There’s nothing like enjoying a bit of nature’s bounty inside the home. Container gardens with things like patio tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, or even your perennial herbs can be moved to a corner of the kitchen or sunroom. Then you can delight in the flavor of fresh ingredients through the winter and early spring, moving them back outside once warm weather returns.
- Prune back dead areas from trees. This is because when snow falls it will lay on the dead branches adding enough weight to cause them to come crashing down. While you can do this yourself with tools purchased at your local home improvement center, if it’s a big job you might be better off hiring a professional tree service.
- Clean the gutters. When winter precipitation begins to fall, you don’t want the leaves and twigs inside your gutters to become a problem. Not only does it make for a messy job, but as with the dead tree limbs it adds weight which could cause the gutter to break free from the roof and fall onto the ground below. My family uses seamless gutters which have a protective cover that allows water to fall in while most leaves and twigs slide right off.
The job of preparing for winter doesn’t end with your yard. Sidewalks and paved driveways should be power washed to get rid of dirt and oils left behind by humans and their various forms of transportation, whether it’s bicycles or automobiles. Make sure attic vents are free from holes that would allow rodents or other small wildlife and reptiles to turn your box of Christmas decorations into a place to hibernate.
On the porch and deck, put away or cover the cushions for your lawn furniture. If you don’t use your grill through the winter, cover it with either a grill cover or a tarp and a bungee cord and tuck it to a corner of the deck where it won’t suffer through a layer of ice or snow all winter. We learned these tips and others from our home insurance agent who shared useful literature and websites with information we needed to winterize the outside of our home as well as the inside.
The Generation X of Lawn Care
When my husband and I first bought our house, we did exactly to our lawn what we’d seen people in the past do to their yards as we were growing up. While plant-boosting products may produce tomatoes the size of pumpkins and pumpkins the size of yoga ball, are the chemicals that we’re putting into both our bodies and the earth in the process to obtain those drastic results worth it? My family says no!
Going organic doesn’t mean that your yard will turn brown and that you’ll have to give up your bumper crop of tomatoes. Nurseries and gardening supply stores are starting to carry earth-friendly fertilizers, mulch, and other plant products. It’s worth taking some time to research the facts about the products going into your lawn before using them again.
Becky James Muth is a freelance author and graphic artist. She knows that part of her job as a wife and mom is to keep her family on task when it comes to home maintenance. She recently installed leaf guard gutters and is learning a lot of great information as she works in her home. She keeps a notebook with checklists for every part of the house and yard which helps prevent potentially costly catastrophes. In her free time Becky enjoys reading, trying new recipes, and browsing antique shops for lost treasures. Photo by Benjamin Esham