When choosing to live a green lifestyle, one of the easiest places to start is in the garden. With just a few changes to your gardening habits, you can make a big difference in the environment. An organic garden--that is, one grown through natural means without harsh chemical fertilizers--is healthier not only for the earth but also for your family.
Cutting waste from your garbage by composting is the easiest step in living green. Simply throwing your vegetable and fruit scraps into a compost pile along with leaves and plant matter will create a nutritious compost that will make chemical fertilizers unnecessary in just a few months. Using a chipper to shred branches and leaves into mulch will also recycle your yard waste into the nutrients needed to grow better plants.
Water conservation is always at the center of a green lifestyle. Gardening can be no different. Construct or purchase a water barrel to catch rainfall run-off from your house downspouts. Water plants only when needed and use a soaker hose in the garden. Lift compost bins on cinder blocks or other supports and place something underneath to catch the run-off from the decomposition. Known as "compost tea," this nutrient-dense liquid is a perfect fertilizer for indoor and outdoor gardening. Mulching also helps conserve water by helping keep your soil moist and weed-free.
Recycle in the Garden
Composting is the most obvious way to recycle in the garden, but there are many other ways to recycle. Purchase tools made of recyclable material. Use a thick layer of watered-down newspapers as a weed barrier under mulch. Save pots from garden center purchases to be used to hold transplants, grow seeds or just to use as a "trash can" for weeds as you maintain your space. Old ladders or chairs make interesting trellises for clematis, morning glories or sprawling vegetables. Strips of old pantyhose with their elasticity make perfect plant ties. Even an old pair of work boots can make an interesting planter.
Keeping it Native
Flowers and vines native to an area have adapted to the environment. Choosing plants found in your area not only makes aesthetic sense but also is a smart green move. Plants acclimated to your particular climate need less water, less soil adjustments and play a part in the natural order as food and shelter for wildlife.
Choosing a particular variety not native to your area can inadvertently cause ecological damage. For example, the once-prized oriental bittersweet vine has all but choked out the native American bittersweet in many areas of the Northeast, causing a loss of food and introducing a poisonous berry to many backyards.