GARDENING WITH A CLEAN CONSCIENCE.
The Austin area has become the fastest growing metro area in Texas and the third fastest in the nation. With such an influx of new people it is hard to keep up. Many people ask me to landscape their yards like "back home," but Texas is a different place with a different ecology. Taking care of a landscape in Texas is hard enough, but to take care of it without damaging our environment is an entirely different challenge. These are a few steps you could follow to get you closer to living green.
Step 1: Plant Native
As our urban areas have grown, the big business nursery industry has too. Their goals were simple: to create and promote products that could be planted in any soil and out-compete the other plants. This would enable the industry to sell the most products. Plants were brought in from South America, Africa, and Asia because of their various strong qualities. The strong qualities were not tested so well. Many of the exotic species proved to be invasive, weak, and in need of much care. As the plants were being introduced they were wiping out many of our native plant species.
Unsurprisingly, native plants are perfectly adapted to the soil and water needs of our environment. Even with native plants' ability to thrive in our environment, exotic plants are capable of crowding and out-competing. This causes many different issues from erosion to losing of endangered species' habitats. Native plants are the way to go. From flowers to trees to even sod, there are many ways to bring our natural Texas heritage back through our plants.
Step 2: Minimize Grass
We love our lawns. We love the idea of laying our blankets, having a picnic, and watching our children play, It is a great idea, but unfeasible without extensive amounts of fertilizers, water, and maintenance cost. That does not mean you have to eliminate all grass and replace with desert sands. Some easy areas to eliminate are up against your house or fence lines. These are great areas to replace with native flower beds. Replacing grass with patio space is another great way to minimize grass without compromising usable outdoor space. Cutting down on grass can save money on water, fertilizer, and maintenance costs.
Step 3: Stop Using Chemicals
It is time to let your yard thrive, without the questionable chemicals the herbicide and pesticide companies say you "need." Nature has a way of taking care of itself. It is actually humans who continue to interfere. There are very natural ways to maintain your yard without using weed and feed, which ends up in our waterways. With science confirming the deadly nature of herbicides and pesticides to honey bee colonies , it is time to look at our habits as a society and reassess. We must greatly reduce the amount of chemicals we use by becoming students of nature. Chemical pesticides and herbicides must be considered the very last line of defense, not our first.
Step 4: Become Water-wise
"The average American family uses 320 Gallons of water per day." Up to 50% of that is used on our lawns. Historic droughts and water pollution are good reminders that our resources are not limitless. We must do everything we can to prevent the water we are using from just evaporating. There are countless ways to reduce your water usage in your landscape, such as using drip lines, minimizing grass space, using native plants, grey water systems, rain water systems, and many more. Eliminate inefficient watering and you can save money while still having a lush garden.
Step 5: Mulching and Composting
Plants grow and drop their leaves. Decomposition happens, which turns into food for the plants the next season. This process has sustained and fed plants, animals, and humans from the beginning of time. Of course, that process is a bit too "dirty" for us. The moment the first leaf hits our grass we are out in force with our rakes and blowers. This prevents the natural defenses nature has to deal with plant disease, poor soil, and evaporation. Becoming students of nature means replicating the process, through mulching and composting. Using a half inch layer of compost over your grass will do wonders for your yard. It will prevent evaporation, erosion, disease, and pests. This process will make your soil richer and your grass happy. In the same way, 3-4 inches of mulch in your garden beds will have very similar results for your trees and perennial plants.
With these 5 steps your landscape will be the envy of your neighborhood and all done with a clean conscience. Let us help you go green. Contact us to set up your free consultation.