NGA Articles: Sustainable Landscaping and Gardening

Sustainable Landscaping and Gardening (cont)

By: Susan Littlefield

Prevent Runoff

Rain water that runs off your property is not only water that will not be stored in the ground for your landscape plants to use; it is also water that can pick up pollutants and excess nutrients that end up in streams, rivers, and lakes. There is much you can do in your landscape to protect your watershed. Some things are simple, such as making sure that any gutter downspouts discharge on to lawns or gardens, not on to paved areas. More ambitious projects include building a rain garden, a planted depression to collect runoff and hold it so that it can soak into the soil. Or consider using permeable pavers, which let water go through, if you are putting in a patio or driveway.

Welcome Wildlife

For pollinating and beneficial insects, birds, butterflies, toads, and more, make your garden a welcoming sanctuary. Minimize your use of pesticides, even organic ones. Plant a wide variety of nectar, pollen, berry, and seed producing plants, with an emphasis on selections native to your area. Provide a source of water, such as a bird bath for feathered visitors. A shallow pool of water with some stones or piles of gravel on which insects can perch will help beneficials quench their thirst. Some insects, especially butterflies and some pollinator bees, prefer a mud puddle. Let a hose or faucet drip just a bit to form a damp, muddy sipping spot.

If you can, let a corner of your yard go "wild." Even a small undisturbed area will give beneficial insects a place to shelter and nest. Plant some evergreens near bird feeders to give birds cover from predators and a place to shelter from the weather.

Grow your own Food

Devote some space to edibles and you'll not only get delicious, fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits to enjoy, you'll reduce your carbon footprint by not purchasing produce that's been shipped many miles to the supermarket. You may even find yourself saving gas as you make fewer trips to the market and more to your sustainable garden!

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