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Green Landscaping

by Kim Kinrade

landscaping trends, green landscapeFor years the aim of almost every homeowner was the golf-green lawn bordered by flowers and shrubs. To maintain this beautiful green carpet required the application of granular fertilizer and pesticides which were cheap and easy to use. So, besides the daily watering and weekly cutting, the space was clean, low maintenance and presented a lush, green welcome mat to the world.

However, there have been some occurrences in the past few years which have acted as pins pricking the veneer of this part of the American dream. One of these is the lack of pollinating insects for crops and backyard fruit trees lessening the yields. In response to the dwindling insects is the rare appearance of songbirds in certain areas. People may welcome the disappearance of insects but these are the helpful ones like bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

As well, the increasing demand for water has taxed the levels of the rivers in the country. Even the mighty Colorado River, a waterway of 1400 miles and one of the major sources of water in the western United States, is in trouble. Traveling through 7 states and 2 countries it has registered its lowest level in almost 500 years, mostly because of increased demand from new housing developments and a low period of precipitation. Usually these times are a natural phenomenon but the added demands make them almost catastrophic.

Home Water Conservation

Homeowners can help with the water shortages just by altering a few of their watering habits and changing some landscaping:

Saving Rain Water: Since the dawn of mankind rainwater has been conserved in dry areas. Now complete cistern systems are available to hold rain from the roofs and other collection points. Even if the water may not be suitable for drinking the amount of water collected from huge roof areas can be used for watering the garden or inside for showers, toilets and dishwashing.

Drip-Tube Watering Systems: Lawn sprinkling has been curtailed by civic bylaws, especially the wasteful practice of daytime drenching where more water goes into the atmosphere and in the drain than on the grass. However, there is a new system that gets the water to the roots of grass, shrubs and trees. Long tubes with tiny holes are buried down at root level and a timer releases water at intervals. There is no loss through evaporation and the roots stay deep with the water supply.

Water Recycling: Water for showering, bathing and washing clothes and dishes is “gray water.” This water has only trace amounts of bacteria and, if the home occupants use environmentally-friendly spas and detergents, it can be used for irrigation. Some companies make a system whereby the gray water can be recycled to operate toilets.

The Garden as a Front Lawn

Replacing the front lawn with gardens, both green and rock gardens, is another way that water is being conserved and fertilizers are being discarded.

The Sun Factor: A perk of this design is that many properties were developed with the front facing south so the extra sun here is great for growing flowers and vegetables.

Growing Food: With increased cost of transporting food many homeowners are turning a hobby into an integral part of their food supply just as their grandparents used to do. By just putting in a few hours a week they can grow enough food to put a large dent in the grocery bill.

Shade: For those who don't want to garden and do not like the glare of the sun on the home putting in shade trees and shrubs will have a marked effect on the air conditioning bill.

Birds and Bees: Planting a garden attracts a wide variety of good insects and birds.

Compost: Having a garden means using household waste for composting. Composting units are cheap to buy and provide chemical-free nutrients for all the plants. In addition, the natural compost adds good microorganisms to the soil, bacteria which are killed off by chemical fertilizers but which seed up plant growth and vitality.

Native Greenery

The early settlers found a great many local plants to their liking before modern landscaping provided exotic species. Wild onions, strawberries and blueberries are native to many areas and, as a result, have their own immunity to diseases and harmful insects. Homeowners need only to consult a local landscaping company or nursery to find these species

Pest Control

There are many plants which have a natural resistance to pests. Garlic is one of these but there are many more. When these are planted with regular vegetables they ward off insects and blights which can cause rot. Check online or with your local landscaping company to find out about these great pest resisters.

With care given to water conservation and preventing chemicals from getting into the aquifer, or water table, a clean, sustainable water system is possible.

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