Your backyard landscape may look lush, but its effects on the surrounding environment may be anything but eco-conscious. Poor landscaping practices like overwatering or excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers can wreck havoc on your region's natural habitat, using up precious resources and polluting the soil and waterways. Switching to green, environmentally friendly landscaping maintenance may not only defend and protect the environment, but can also save you time and money.
Get Rid of Turf
Lawn grass may comprise a large portion of traditional landscape designs but suck up lots of precious water, warns the University of Florida. Additionally, lawns may require significant amounts of fertilization and pesticide treatments to keep them looking their best. Replace lawns with mulch or other forms of groundcover. If you must install a turf, the University of Florida recommends using a drought-resistant lawn species like zoysiagrass or Bermudagrass.
Use Native Plants
Native plants naturally thrive in your region and usually need less watering, fertilization and maintenance, reports the University of Georgia. They're often less susceptible to disease and pests. Your regional cooperative extension office can provide you with lists of common native landscaping specimens, which can also often be purchased at local garden stores and nurseries.
Control Pest Naturally
Chemical pesticides may damage the soil and pollute your area's waterways. Thankfully, they're not the only option for controlling pests in your landscape. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using natural predators such as lacewings, ladybugs and toads to keep nasty bug populations in check. Many garden stores also sell all-natural, organic pesticides that may be just as effective as toxic pesticides.
Incorporate Organic Matter
Lots of organic matter in both the soil and on the soil surface can help conserve water. Texas A&M University recommends mixing 4 to 6 inches of matter such as compost, peat moss or shredded bark into your soil. This boosts the dirt's ability to retain moisture, reducing your need for constant watering. Heavy mulching on your flower beds and around trees and shrubs can also limit evaporation-related water loss.
If you use native plants, you likely won't need fertilization. When you do fertilize, the University of Georgia recommends using a slow-release fertilizer product to avoid releasing excessive amounts of nitrogen that may leach into the underlying water table or runoff into storm drains where it can pollute local streams. Additionally, keep your fertilizer contained. If you spill any, sweep it up.