Enter the ‘greenscape’

Five tips for making an environmentally healthy yard

The whiff of spring in the air means it’s time to start planning our plantings and lawn care. The Environmental Protection Agency has set up a useful page on its website to help devise a plan to “greenscape” your way into a water-saving, money-saving and more evironmentally healthy yard. Here are some tips:

1. Build and maintain healthy soil: Find out what nutrients your soil needs (or doesn’t need) by doing a soil test first; add compost (and start making your own at home); add mulch; and if you need fertilizer go for products that contain natural, organic or “slow-release” ingredients.

2. Plant right for your site: Where’s it sunny/shady? What’s the soil’s pH, and what type of soil is it (sandy, clay, etc.)? What are the different uses you have planned? Pick plants that fit your needs, are native to your area, and will still fit in once fully grown.

3. Practice smart watering: Water deeply, but infrequently; choose plants that require less water; water plants with soaker hoses or drip system and water separately from lawns.

4. Adopt a holistic approach to pest management: First, prevention: healthy soil, pest-resistent plants, variety of plantings, pull weeds before they go to seed, remove dead/unhealthy plants. Then, identify problem before acting; accept a little damage (give nature time to work); use integrated approach (weed pullers, mulching, rotate crops). Use pesticides responsibly.

5. Practice natural lawn care: Mow higher, mow regularly and “grasscycle” by leaving the clippings. Follow earlier tips about soil maintenance.

Source: www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/greenscapes/owners.htm