When most people think about improving their front and back yards, they largely think about aesthetics. Should they add more flowers this year or improve the flower bed borders? Will the grass be greener by aerating this year? These and other such thoughts are common when homeowners look at their yards. However, for most homeowners, the little slivers of land that they call their front and back yards are the only pieces of earth they own. While these slivers are small, they have a big impact on water usage, utility bills, pollution, and more. So the next time you look at your yard and think about making some improvements, consider these eco-friendly ideas for a green yard:
Install a Rain Barrel. More and more homeowners are discovering the advantages of adding a rain barrel (or two or three) to their yards. These barrels are available in a variety of facades, and many of them are quite attractive. Most will connect to the downspout on your rain gutters and will capture the rain as it runs off your roof. By attaching your water hose to the spigot on the bottom of the barrel, you can easily use rain water to water your lawn, saving yourself quite a bit of money on water bills as well as preventing excessive runoff and contamination of your community’s water supply. These barrels are available in sizes from about 50 gallons to several hundred gallons. Many communities offer rebates for installing a rain barrel, so check with your community before you buy to see if a rebate is available to you.
Pay Attention to Flower Beds. Flower beds generally use far less water than lawns will use, so if you live in a dry or drought prone area, consider increasing your flower bed space. Increasing your flower bed space also means you will have less lawn to mow with a polluting lawn mower. When you plan out your flower beds, plant drought-resistant plants that are native to your area to save more on your water bill. You should also use annual flowers rather than perennial blooms, as they cut down on a significant amount of waste (as well as the use of your own time and effort to plant them). In addition, you will want to plant native plants closer to the house to provide additional shade and keep your utility bills lower.
Lawn Care. Grassy areas typically take up the largest amount of space in front and back yards. They require regular maintenance during warm growing seasons with a mower. Consider mowing with a traditional reel mower for an eco-friendly grass trim. If you must use a gas or electric mower, use a mulching mower that allows the grass trimmings to fall on top of the yard. This helps to conserve water and acts as an organic fertilizer for your grass. You will want to take care to keep weed growth from running rampant in your yard. Weeds grow fast and can soak up quite a bit of valuable water that your yard needs. Avoid using chemical fertilizer and pesticides, however. Check out organic options, which may include using your own compost that you can make in a little corner of your backyard.
These eco-friendly landscaping ideas will get you well on your way to enjoying a more “green” yard this year!