Try a clover lawn
Add variety to your landscape with ornamental grasses
Patch your lawn with sod or grass seed
Help plant one million trees by 2011
As Earth Day rolls around many gardeners become aware of their landscaping habits. While pesticides and chemical fertilizers may seem convenient, they are also harmful to the environment. Here in Maryland we are especially concerned with the health of the Chesapeake Bay and how our garden habits can contribute to its decline. During Baltimore Green Week, try to move away from less environmentally friendly garden practices. Some new habits are as simple as using organic weed control or as elaborate as replacing the whole lawn. Below are a few options for making your garden more environmentally friendly.
Chemical fertilizers cause problems for the Chesapeake Bay. Water run off washes these harmful substances into the bay and algae feeds off of it. This helps the algae grow so excessively that it blocks off light to underwater grasses. It also blocks oxygen from getting to fish and crabs. Only use a little fertilizer on lawns in the fall and none in the spring. This will also save money on landscaping supplies.
Also consider areas that are bare or are covered with concrete. Replacing these areas with low maintenance ground covers or simply with mulch will stop run off when it rains hard. See the Examiner article, “How does your lawn and garden affect the Chesapeake Bay?” for more details on this issue.
Mowing height and lawn replacement
Frequent mowing waste gas and contribute to pollution. To mow less, set your lawnmower blades at 3” or above. This will also protect the grass, as too short grass will dry out quickly. For more advanced gardeners, consider replacing your lawn with clover or another low maintenance plant. Clover rarely needs to be mowed and is very attractive.
Insecticides and other chemicals
Toxic chemicals can be harmful to children and pets. They are also expensive. Consider pouring vinegar or salt on weeds to remove them organically and inexpensively. For more information, see the Examiner article, “Organic ways to kill and control sidewalk weeds”.
Compost over chemicals
The average family throws away a lot of lettuce leaves, potato peels and strawberry tops. This is a free, organic resource for your garden. Simply begin a compost pile in the back yard. The EPA gives detailed instructions for this on their web site. As the “black gold” matures, add it to your garden beds instead of commercial chemical fertilizer.
Conserve water rain barrel
Mulch plants to conserve water. Buy or make a rain barrel will save on your utility bills. During the gardening season there are many rain barrel workshops around Maryland, including at the Herring Run Watershed Association.
This article is the third in a series for Baltimore Green Week. There are four articles in total and the other topics are “TreeBaltimore aids city residents during Baltimore Green Week”, “Volunteer opportunities for Maryland gardeners” and “Earth Day facts for Marylanders”.
For more info: Please subscribe to receive new articles regularly by clicking on the “subscribe” button at the top of this article. Contact the Baltimore Gardening Examiner by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow baltogardener on Twitter or on her personal blog, A Baltimore Gardener.