Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rethinking lawns and yard space

Lawns usually require the most energy and water in landscaped spaces. The Ecological Landscape Association recommends allowing grass to grow longer between mowings and letting lawns go dormant during the height of summer. Using seed mixes that tolerate drought and resist disease are also beneficial. Local landscapers often use Ecoblend, Pearls Premium and Pennington's Smart Seed. Of course, if your lifestyle allows it, forgoing or limiting grass in the overall landscape works too. Groundcovers can easily replace grass especially on steep slopes that are too dangerous to mow. I have also seen show-stopping perennial gardens take the place of traditional front yards. Many folks are now using edible landscaping instead of grass. Of course, a really low-maintenance option is to use wood chips (or gravel for more urban sites.) Providing a thick cover of material is applied, the area will be virtually free of any needed landscape management, energy expenditure or watering.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

World Water Day

It has been pouring rain in Boston. The weather feels appropriate since Monday was World Water Day. Every year, this day highlights global issues regarding access to safe, drinkable water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), there are several ways in which gardeners can help preserve this precious resource and prevent polluted runoff. Whenever possible, we should use natural fertilizer such as compost, manure, bone meal or peat. In addition, using drip irrigation systems and soaker hoses will prevent overwatering our lawns and gardens. Decreasing impervious surfaces will also lessen the load on our public sewer systems and improve drainage into the soil. Finally, NRDC recommends maintaining septic systems properly - they should be cleaned out every three to five years to prevent contaminating the local groundwater. This year, I am going to take advantage of this crazy New England weather by installing rain barrels on our downspouts. Come summer, we'll have extra water from Mother Nature to irrigate with.
To learn more about how we can clean up our water go to